Ties in focus as Pakistan army chief meets US officials | News

Weeks earlier than his scheduled retirement, Pakistan’s navy chief has travelled to america for a collection of high-level discussions.

Basic Qamar Javed Bajwa held conferences on Tuesday with US Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin and Nationwide Safety Adviser Jake Sullivan, throughout which they mentioned the regional safety scenario, in accordance with the Pakistani navy.

For its half, the Pentagon stated the talks had been “centered on alternatives to deal with key mutual defence pursuits”.

Nasim Zehra, an Islamabad-based analyst, stated this was Bajwa’s “farewell journey” to the US forward of his November retirement. The final was initially slated to retire three years in the past, however the authorities of former Prime Minister Imran Khan granted him an extension.

“We’re seeing larger interplay between the political and navy management of each international locations,” Zehra instructed Al Jazeera. “I wouldn’t rule out this journey involving discussions of larger navy cooperation.”

Through the earlier decade, Pakistan steadily moved in direction of its important regional ally China for its financial and defence wants, which resulted within the gradual cooling-off in its relationship with the US.

After the autumn of Kabul to the Taliban in August final yr, the connection fractured much more. The Pakistani aspect felt that the US had left neighbouring Afghanistan with out an exit technique whereas the US expressed frustration that Pakistan didn’t play a task in controlling the Taliban.

The scenario additional deteriorated when Khan engaged in aggressive anti-US rhetoric and blamed what he referred to as a Washington-led overseas conspiracy for overthrowing his authorities in April with out offering proof of his allegations.

Nevertheless, the federal government of present Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has renewed makes an attempt to fix ties since taking workplace. That course of picked up tempo over the previous a number of months after catastrophic floods swept by means of a lot of Pakistan, killing about 1,700 folks and affecting 33 million.

In July, Donald Blome assumed his function as US ambassador to Pakistan, filling a slot that had been vacant for 4 years. Since then, senior US officers and members of Congress have visited the nation within the aftermath of the floods. To this point, the US has offered $66m in support.

And final month, each Sharif and Overseas Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken throughout their go to to the US. The highest US diplomat final week defended a just lately accredited $450m F-16 deal after criticism from Pakistan’s archrival, India. Blinken stated it might assist Pakistan preserve its current fleet of the fighter jets.

‘Restricted scope relationship’

Some analysts imagine the aim of Bajwa’s go to is to make sure that going ahead, the ties between the 2 international locations stay no less than cordial and practical.

“It’s maybe a type of assurance to the Individuals by the military chief that no matter we agree, Pakistan will proceed with [that] coverage,” Lahore-based political analyst Hassan Askari Rizvi instructed Al Jazeera. “It isn’t about a person, however an establishment, which is on board with the coverage of bettering Pakistani-US relations.”

Rizvi stated the US could have “a restricted scope relationship” with Pakistan, including that “each positives and negatives of this coverage will proceed concurrently”.

Abdul Basit, a analysis fellow on the S Rajaratnam College of Worldwide Research in Singapore, concurred. He additionally famous that the change within the relationship calculus was extra to regulate Afghanistan and maintain strain on the Taliban authorities.

“In return, the US is offering some support to Pakistan to mitigate the harm and destruction unleashed by monsoon floods in addition to use its affect on the Worldwide Financial Fund for the bailout package deal and assist the nation come off the FATF checklist,” Basit instructed Al Jazeera, referring to the Monetary Motion Activity Drive, an intergovernmental physique that retains Pakistan on a watchlist of nations that don’t meet the organisation’s standards to limit the funding of terrorist teams.

Whereas rebuilding its relationship with Washington, Pakistan may also have to keep up a balancing act with China, which is at loggerheads with the US over numerous points. Final month, Bajwa paid a two-day go to to Beijing, the place he met Chinese language Defence Minister Wei Fenghe.

This, Rizvi believes, means the trail in direction of a practical relationship will stay bumpy.

“The US has reservations relating to the Chinese language function in Pakistan, they usually wish to use India as a counterbalance towards China,” he stated. ‘This upsets Pakistan, so, due to this fact, it isn’t going to be a clean relationship.”

Basit, then again, feels that opening to Pakistan was maybe a sign to each India and China.

“Bettering ties with Pakistan is supposed to counterbalance China in addition to give a sign to India for snubbing the US and the West over the Ukraine battle and persevering with oil imports from Russia,” he stated.

Leave a Reply