Pakistan desires to maintain productive bilateral engagement with regional players: COAS

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Members of US Senate Armed Services and intelligence Committees headed by Senator Angus King, called on Pakistan General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS)
Members of US Senate Armed Services and intelligence Committees headed by Senator Angus King, called on Pakistan General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS)

Rawalpindi, 13 December 2021 (TDI): Members of US Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees headed by Senator Angus King, called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS). The delegation also included Senator Richard Burr, Senator John Cornyn, and Senator Ben Sasse. Ms. Angela Aggeler, US Charge d’ Affaires to Pakistan accompanied the delegation.

During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, the current security situation in Afghanistan, and bilateral cooperation in various fields were discussed. COAS said that Pakistan desires to maintain productive bilateral engagement with all the regional players and wished for peaceful, diversified, sustained relations.

Furthermore, COAS reiterated the urgency for global convergence on Afghanistan to avoid looming humanitarian crises and the need for coordinated efforts for the economic uplift of the Afghan people. COAS thanked the Senators for their efforts in forging a mutual understanding of the geopolitical & security situation because of the challenges ahead.

The visiting dignitaries appreciated Pakistan’s role in the Afghan situation, special efforts for border management, role in regional stability and pledged to play their part in furthering diplomatic cooperation with Pakistan at all levels (COAS).

PAKISTAN-US RELATIONS 

The United States and Pakistan established diplomatic relations in 1947. Their relation has roots in the shared values and convergence of interest in different issues. During the Cold War, both countries were close strategic partners and were members of diverse organizations like SEATO.

According to the Pakistani Embassy in the United States, in 1971, Pakistan facilitated the rapprochement of the US to China. After 9/11 Pakistan and the United States collaborated to fight terrorism. Together both countries degraded the threat that Al-Qaeda and other groups posed.

The Embassy then mentioned that currently, Pakistan and the US have an active commitment to restore peace in Afghanistan; and also are key partners in several multilateral initiatives. The Embassy mentioned that those initiatives are to restore peace in Afghanistan.

The US has been one of Pakistan’s most important development partners and the US is also a major source of foreign direct investment. Additionally, the US has been one of the biggest export markets for Pakistan. Furthermore, the United States has been a major investor in Pakistan’s infrastructure, energy, and also education spheres.

According to the Embassy, an example of this last statement is the largest Fulbright Program run by the United States. Currently, there are 1 million Pakistani-US citizens in the United States.

According to the Embassy, the community is not only a bridge between the two countries but a contribution to enriching US society. This is because that community of Pakistani-US citizens is comprised of entrepreneurs, doctors, and academics.

MILITARY AND ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE 

In 2006, Islamabad acquired arms from the US for a value of $3.5 billion; which nearly matched the total Pakistani purchases during the fifty years before 2001. According to a report of the United States Government provided Pakistan with nearly 11 billion for military and economic assistance, since 2002.

Later in 2008, Pakistan had more than 85,000 troops on the Afghan border; and those troops captured over seven hundred al-Qaeda fighters. Both countries have the  Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence as a division of the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM).

US CIVILIAN ASSISTANCE TO PAKISTAN 

The Department of State of the United States mentioned that the primary focus of the civilian assistance that they provide to Pakistan is development. According to the Department, the assistance to the development of Pakistan is towards security, stability, prosperity, and self-reliance.

Cooperating with Pakistan, international donors, and development partners; the assistance of the US is on projects to support economic growth, bilateral trade, rule of law; refugees, and communities that host refugees.

Those projects also aim to support law enforcement, civil society, and also people-to-people exchanges. Finally, the civilian assistance of the US to Pakistan aims to counter infectious diseases, like COVID-19 and Polio.

SITUATION OF AFGHANISTAN 

In 2001, the United States and its allies intervened in Afghanistan. The operation was successful, the Taliban fell and the allies formed a new government. The Security Council of the United Nations established an International Security Assistance Force to help the newly-established government.

Later in 2014, the war of the United States officially ended, but thousands of NATO troops stayed behind to train the Afghan security forces. Then in April 2021, the General Secretary of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, announced the agreement to withdraw their troops.

In August 2021, the Taliban entered Kabul and took over the control of the country when the current President, Ashraf Ghani, fled with his family. Now the country is facing a humanitarian crisis as the international community does not recognize the Taliban as the government.

The consequences of the fact that the Taliban is not the legitimate government to the international eyes are many. The first one is that the financial assets of the bank were frozen on the orders of the US; hence why the citizens do not receive their salaries, the families don’t have money to buy food.

Adding to that problem we find that Afghanistan suffered a drought in 2021, so the population is suffering acute food insecurity. The threat of that acute food insecurity is that the Afghans are at risk of hunger; and severe malnutrition which can cause deaths. The international organizations of the UN are working hard to prevent that from happening.

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