ISLAMABAD - US Central Command (CentCom) Commander General Kenneth McKenzie Jr arrived in Islamabad on Friday night along with his delegation as Washington moves closer to a peace deal with the Taliban.

On the first leg of his visit, General McKenzie accompanied by US Ambassador to Pakistan Paul Jones and others Saturday visited Tarbela Dam Project.

According to sources, General Kenneth McKenzie Jr’s special chartered plane landed at Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi on Friday night. They said that General McKenzie during his visit to Pakistan will hold important meetings with civil and military leadership.

Accompanied by a 17-member delegation, the commander is likely to discuss details of US-Taliban agreement with Pakistan’s leadership.

The sources said both the sides are likely to discuss Pak-US relations and the ongoing Afghan peace talks, among other matters.

The US general’s visit to the country amidst rising tension between Pakistan and India has also a significant importance. “The visit will also help revive Pak-US military-to-military cooperation,” a source told The Nation, adding the relations between the two countries were not ‘very warm’ in the recent months. The two sides would discuss the geo-strategic environment and regional security, he further said.

Before initiating meetings with Pakistani leaders, General McKenzie accompanied by US Ambassador to Pakistan Paul Jones and others Saturday visited Tarbela Dam Project.

During the visit, he had a round of various components of the project including the main dam, spillways, the reservoir and the power house, said a press release issued in Islamabad.

Welcoming the US delegation on the project, Wapda Chairman Lt-Gen (Retd) Muzammil Hussain said that Tarbela Dam has been playing a vital role for economic stability and social development of Pakistan since its completion in 1974 by providing water for agriculture, mitigating floods, and injecting a sizeable quantum of low-cost and environment-friendly hydel electricity to the national grid.

Despite being in the fifth decade of its life, Tarbela Reservoir can still store more than 6 million acre feet (MAF) of water. At present, generation capacity of Tarbela Hydel Power Station stands at 4888 MW with completion of its fourth extension last year.

In view of the successful completion of fourth extension within stipulated cost and time, the federal government has decided to implement Tarbela fifth extension project on fast track basis. The fifth extension will add another 1410 MW to the generation capacity of Tarbela Hydel Power Station, he further said.

The Chairman apprised the delegation that Tarbela Hydel Power Station has the singular honour of possessing more than half of the total installed capacity of hydel generation in Pakistan.

Briefing about the various components of the project, the Chairman appreciated the US financial support in construction of Tarbela Dam way back in 1970s and rehabilitation of the aging power generating units installed at Tarbela Hydel Power Station.

The US intervention in rehabilitating the aging units of Tarbela Hydel Power Station helped WAPDA in attracting the leading financial institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for implementation of Tarbela’s fourth and fifth extension with cumulative generation capacity of 2820 MW, he added.

The US delegation observed that the recent US grant of $41 million will extend the useful life of the Tarbela power house by 15-20 years and restore 148 MW of power generation capacity.

The US delegation was pleased to see in Tarbela Dam a manifestation of the decades-long and continuing US investment in Pakistan’s economic and social development.