ISLAMABAD - A top American military commander is likely to visit Pakistan today (Thursday) in what is seen as a crucial development to cement the already drawn contours of closer military cooperation between the Pakistan Army and the Western military alliance against the backdrop of Islamabad’s ongoing drive against militancy in the north-western border region.

The Isaf (International Security Assistance Force) Chief General John Allen is expected to meet his Pakistani counterpart during his third visit to the General Headquarters in a couple of months.

The interaction between Gen Allen and Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will focus on reviewing the progress made in the implementation of recently evolved border coordination measures and standing operating procedure, according to a military statement.

Today’s visit would be Allen’s fifth and seventh by an American general to Pakistan this year. The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) Chief General James Mattis visited Pakistan twice this year. He last visited GHQ about a fortnight ago.

The security officials said today’s meeting between the two military commanders would involve discussions on the border coordination procedures reviewed earlier as well as the Pakistan military-led ongoing and anticipated military offensives in Pak-Afghan borderlands, particularly in the Bajaur and North Waziristan Agencies.

Gen Allen’s visit comes at a time when the Pakistani military and the Taliban militants are locked into pitched battle in the Bajaur Agency. The security officials said as many as 42 militants have been killed while six security men and two tribal militia members have lost their lives during the intense fight on Monday and Tuesday.

Credible reports suggest that Pakistan military is set to scale up targeted operations in the Bajaur’s neighbouring North Waziristan, to be gradually escalated to a regular military offensive. The Pakistan Army and Isaf are already reported to have contemplated enhanced intelligence sharing and technical coordination to take on the militants at the respective sides of the border.

During today’s meeting, according to the informed officials, Gen Kayani is to ask his Isaf counterpart to make necessary arrangements for closing Afghan side of the border for blocking the way of runaway militants as they usually try to flee across the border to escape military operations.

Earlier this month, Allen had met Kayani at the GHQ on the pretext of discussing border coordination. His visit was described by the Pakistan military as “another in a series of opportunities for the commanders to continue building upon the growing operational cooperation between the Afghanistan National Security Force, the Pakistan military and Isaf“.

The two commanders were believed to have discussed modalities for taking on the militants at the respective sides of the border.

Though a full-scale military offensive is already underway in Bajaur, Pakistan Army has not disclosed its plan for the anticipated NWA operation. The military leadership has repeatedly asserted that it would solely decide when to launch the operation without any ground involvement of the Western military alliance.