WASHINGTON: Army Chief General Raheel Sharif said yesterday that Pakistan and the US will continue to operate in a coordinated manner against terrorists in order to root out this menace. He said this during a meeting with US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter at Pentagon. “Pakistan is resolved to eliminate terrorism and extremism from its soil for good,” Gen Sharif said at the meeting in which the two leaders discussed Pakistan-US defence relations and regional security, according to a military spokesman.

In a series of tweets, ISPR Director General Lt-Gen Asim Bajwa said the US defence secretary appreciated Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices in fighting war on terror and acknowledged the effects of successful counter terrorism operations. The US will play its part and will fully support any effort of Pakistan in fighting terrorism and extremism, Carter was quoted as saying.

The US defence secretary was of the view that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts are “opening opportunities for regional peace”. During the meeting, Gen Raheel highlighted Pakistan’s perspective of regional challenges and reiterated the country’s resolve to eliminate terrorism from its soil for good.

Earlier, the army chief discussed with CIA Director John Brennan a range of issues that focused on resumption of the stalled Afghan peace process and security challenges facing the region. Regional security challenges and a way forward were discussed during the meeting held at the spy agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Asim Bajwa said in several tweets. Gen Sharif specifically highlighted the need for permanent stability and requirement of an environment conducive for reinitiating Afghan-owned reconciliation process, he said. The CIA chief acknowledged the accomplishments of the operation Zarb-e-Azb, its positive impact on security and appreciated Pakistan’s efforts for reconciliation and discussed opportunities for the future of an enduring regional peace, the ISPR spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the American press continues to highlight the Pak Army’s performance in countering terrorists and improving law and order in the country. New York Times said, “The most popular man in public office in Pakistan does not give speeches on television, rarely appears in public and rejects news interviews. He is Gen Raheel Sharif, the Pakistan Army chief, who has led the country’s armed forces at a time when they are riding high after curbing domestic terrorism and rampant political crime.”

“Aided by new media publicity campaign, the military command’s popularity has helped it quietly grasp control of the governmental functions it cares about most: security and foreign affairs, along with de facto regulatory power over the news media, according to interviews with Pakistani officials and analysts.” “In a country with a long history of military coups, the current command has gotten what it wants, edging aside the civilian government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is not related to General Sharif, without the messiness or the international criticism a complete takeover would bring. And it is being thanked for doing it.”

Talat Masood, a retired lieutenant general and military analyst, was quoted as saying by The Times, “I wouldn’t describe it as a soft coup, but would definitely say the civilian leadership has yielded space to the military for their own survival and because there were major failures on their part.” In a dispatch, Bloomberg news service wrote, “Raheel Sharif has been remarkably busy this year meeting powerful people to discuss Pakistan: the prime minister of Turkey, the US secretary of state and the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, to name a few.”

“Sharif, though, isn’t Pakistan’s leader. That’s the other Sharif: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who’s not related. Raheel Sharif, a four-star general, is the nation’s chief of army staff. And, by all accounts, his ties with Nawaz Sharif are a bit rocky,” it said. “In a militant-plagued, nuclear-armed nation with a history of military coups and weak civilian leadership, the general’s visibility and public testiness with his prime minister has raised eyebrows. The tensions risk undermining Nawaz Sharif’s efforts to lure investment and put the economy on a path to sustainable growth. At the least, analysts say, Raheel Sharif wants to make clear that it’s the men in uniform, not suits, who call the shots,” it added.

“They are just pushing, scaring the government to perform,” Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Lahore-based political analyst who formerly taught at Columbia University in New York, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg. “The military doesn’t want to assume power directly because that has a lot of problems. The military wants a civilian face in front, and Nawaz Sharif has agreed to be that civilian face.” Gen Sharif, during his visit, would also meet Vice President Joe Biden. During his stay in Washington, he would also meet Secretary of State John Kerry, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Joseph Dunford and Chief of Army Staff Gen Mark Milley, besides holding meetings with influential US lawmakers. Gen Sharif’s visit comes weeks after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with US President Barack Obama at the Oval Office to discuss almost the same issues, including Afghan peace talks.