The top civil-military leadership on Saturday told a group of visiting US lawmakers that Pakistan’s interests are compatible with the interests of the US as both the countries believe in democracy, rule of law, and striving for the provision of security at the regional and world level.
Members of the US Senate committees on armed services and intelligence, headed by Senator Angus King, met Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The lawmakers are on a visit to Pakistan amid concerns that Washington may once again ditch Islamabad after its exit from Afghanistan.
The delegation includes Senator Richard Burr, Senator John Cornyn, and Senator Ben Sasse. They are visiting Islamabad at a time when the US-Pakistan ties have been strained because of a number of reasons. The China-US tussle has further complicated the relationship between the two countries.
Earlier this week, Pakistan turned down a US invitation to a summit on democracy in a decision that seemed to be linked with its close ties with China. China was not invited to the summit and strongly reacted to the US initiative. However, despite skipping the summit, Pakistan is trying to convey a message that it is not going to join any bloc politics.
The army chief told the US senators that Pakistan wished to maintain “productive bilateral relations” with all the regional players, suggesting that Islamabad did not want to join any bloc in an increasingly bipolar world where the Americans were desperately making efforts to counter the rise of China.
When the four-member US Senate delegation met General Bajwa and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, they were told that Pakistan valued its ties with the US but that did not mean the country would ignore regional players. The army chief and the US delegation discussed matters of mutual interest, the current security situation in Afghanistan, and bilateral cooperation in various fields.
According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army chief said Pakistan wanted to maintain productive bilateral engagement with all the regional players and wished for peaceful, diversified, sustained relations. He also reiterated the urgency for global convergence on Afghanistan to avoid the looming humanitarian crisis and the need for coordinated efforts for the economic uplift of the Afghan people.
The COAS thanked the senators for their efforts in forging a mutual understanding of geo political and security situation in view of 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 Islamabad at all levels.
Earlier, the delegation met Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed regional and global issues.