Chief of Army Staff called on UN military adviser in NY

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WASHINGTON: Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa called on the UN secretary general’s military adviser in New York on Saturday. An ISPR press release said the two generals discussed “matters of mutual interest, overall regional security situation and the natural disaster caused by recent floods” across Pakistan. The press note said the army chief was on “an official visit to the United States”.

Gen Bajwa is to begin his formal engagements in the US capital on Monday (today) with a series of meetings with senior defence and intelligence officials.

In his meetings with Gen Diop, the Chief of Army Staff “appreciated the role of the office of UN’s military adviser in promoting UN core values” during major world crises, the ISPR said.

The adviser expressed his grief over the devastation caused by floods in Pakistan, offered condolences to the victim families and assured them of the UN’s support in rehabilitation, the statement added.

Gen Diop acknowledged Pakistan’s contribution in UN peacekeeping missions and achievements in counterterrorism, his office said.

The meeting happened a day after the United Nations confirmed the martyrdom of a Pakistani peacekeeper, Havaldar Babar Siddique, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Pakistan is the sixth largest contributor of troops to the UN peacekeeping force. The country deployed its first- ever contingent in Congo in 1960 and has participated in 41 missions in 23 countries.

In Washington, Gen Bajwa’s five-day official visit is seen as part of a renewed effort by both sides to improve bilateral ties.

The army chief is scheduled to hold a series of meetings with US officials at the Pentagon and at Langley, the headquarters of the Central Intelli­gence Agency (CIA).

Diplomatic sources in Washington point out that US-Pakistan relations have been improving gradually since Aug 2, when a US drone assassinated Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in Kabul.

Media reports claim that Pakistan helped the United States in locating the Al Qaeda chief. Islamabad, however, has rejected such suggestions as incorrect. 

Gen Bajwa, who is expected to retire next month, may make a farewell visit to the US Central Command, which deals directly with both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Official sources in Washington said that the visit was long overdue and had no connection with the political situation in Pakistan.

Gen Bajwa was expected in Washington early this year, but the visit was postponed because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The visit was rescheduled for March-April, but the change of government in Islamabad further delayed it.

“Finally, he is in the United States at the invitation of Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin,” one of the sources said.
 

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