Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa meets PM Imran Khan ahead of Pompeo's visit
Fund from providing Pakistan with a bailout, alleging the money would be used to repay Chinese loans as a previous measure
Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa met Imran Khan on Monday and discussed various security-related issues with the Prime Minister ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Islamabad on September 5. Bajwa held his first formal meeting with Prime Minister Khan on August 27 and discussed efforts to ensure long-lasting peace and stability in the region.
"Matters related to security were discussed," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement about Monday's meeting. The meeting is significant for its timing due to Pompeo's scheduled visit to the country as the US Secretary of State is expected to demand support from Pakistan to bring Taliban to the negotiating table.
US-Pakistan tensions have flared before Pompeo's trip with Islamabad dismissing as "incorrect" reports the US has cancelled USD 300 million in military aid to the country, saying Washington owed the money to Islamabad for expenses incurred on fighting terrorism. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi made the remarks a day after the Pentagon disclosed it decided to scrap the funds because Pakistan was not doing enough against terrorist groups inside its borders. Qureshi confirmed his American counterpart will visit Pakistan and downplayed suggestions the funding row has fuelled mutual tensions.
This will be Washington's first high-level dialogue with Islamabad since Khan was sworn-in as the 22nd premier of Pakistan on August 18. Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won the 25 July general election amidst the perception that the Pakistan Army, a major player in Pakistan's politics, has thrown its weight behind his party. Bajwa had congratulated Khan on assuming the top ministerial job during their first meeting at the Prime Minister's Office.
The powerful military has ruled coup-prone Pakistan for nearly half of the country's history since independence in 1947. Khan visited the General Headquarters (GHQ) on August 30 and assured that his government would provide all resources to maintain the capability and capacity of the Army. Khan told reporters on Friday that his government will hold talks with Pompeo's delegation to seek a "mutually beneficial" relationship with the US that will be based on "mutual respect".
The visit is already marred by a controversy over a telephonic conversation between Khan and Pompeo. The two sides issued divergent statements after the telephonic conversation. Pakistan contested the State Department's version that Pompeo had raised the issue of the presence of terrorist groups on the Pakistani soil with the new prime minister. Meanwhile, former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani has said that Khan should not meet Pompeo during his visit and the country's foreign minister should instead meet his US counterpart.
The senator opined that the recent cut in 'aid' was part of measures to put pressure on Pakistan and mentioned Pompeo's recent statement, in which he discouraged the International Monetary Fund from providing Pakistan with a bailout, alleging the money would be used to repay Chinese loans as a previous measure.
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