ISLAMABAD: In a possible easing of tensions, senior military officials from Pakistan, Nato and Afghanistan met for the first time in months on Wednesday in an effort to improve border coordination.
The trilateral meeting, held at the Border Coordination Center Torkham, was the first since last year’s Nato cross-border raid which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and sent the fragile alliance between Pakistan and the US to an all-time low.
But Wednesday’s meeting, attended by Pakistan Army’s Director General Military Operations Major General Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed, was the clearest indication yet that tensions between Islamabad and Washington were easing.
Pakistan reacted sharply to the November 26 Nato attacks by shutting down key supply lines for the western forces stationed in Afghanistan and ordered a complete review of cooperation with the US.
Pakistan also refused to host US officials including President Barack Obama’s point-man for the region Marc Grossman, who intended to visit Islamabad last month to discuss the progress in peace talks with the Afghan Taliban.
However, in recent weeks the two sides appear closer towards ironing out their differences. One such indication was a rare briefing given by the US to Pakistan last week on its initial contacts with the Afghan Taliban.
Previously, the two countries kept their cards close to their chests on the Afghan endgame, reflecting a trust-deficit between the crucial allies.
A terse statement issued by the military’s media wing said that the meeting was part of a “tripartite engagement to discuss and improve various coordination measures on Pak-Afghan border.”
A military official told The Express Tribune that the Pakistani side emphasised the need for better coordination to avoid a repeat of last year’s airstrikes.
The official also acknowledged that the trilateral meeting would help pave the way for more engagements between Pakistan and the United States, in coming weeks.
Some sources indicate that the latest talks would be followed by another round of parleys at the level of Pakistan, Nato and Afghan military chiefs.
Interestingly, the tripartite meeting was held the same day the latest US drone strikes killed nine people in North Waziristan Agency.
The development is being seen as resumption of intelligence cooperation between Pakistan and the United States.
An American diplomat has disclosed that despite tensions, the two countries have been “sharing intelligence and cooperating with each other.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2012.