Almost a year after the November 26 attack on a Pakistan checkpost by US forces, both countries buried the hatchet and resumed bilateral security cooperation, reaffirming commitment to defence ties between the two war on terror allies base on strategic desirability, political sustainability, trust and mutual respect.
According to a joint statement issued after the 21st United States – Pakistan Defence Consultative Group (DCG) meeting held in Rawalpindi, the delegations acknowledged that bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation has been critical to weakening violent extremists and underscores the importance of continuing cooperation to complete the defeat of al Qaeda and its affiliates in the region.
Both sides affirmed their mutual commitment to a strong defence relationship, which they stressed, should focus on achieving common objectives.
The two nations’ delegations were led by Pakistan’s Secretary of Defence Lt. Gen. (Retd) Asif Yasin Malik and the US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Dr James Miller respectively.
The DCG is the primary forum for exchanging views and coordinating defence policy with the goal of strengthening cooperation to support each country’s security interests. It last met in May, 2011 in Washington, DC. Tuesday’s meeting was the first after the Salala incident plunged ties between the two countries to new depths.
During a plenary session, DCG participants shared their respective assessments of the bilateral relationship and discussed each country’s strategic priorities, and agreed on areas for future defense cooperation.
Both delegations concluded that the discussions to reopen the NATO-led Coalition’s ground supply lines and the resumption of bilateral consultations on regional security were significant achievements over the past six months.
The Pakistani delegation provided an update on its military campaign along its western border and the US side briefed on International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) activities in Afghanistan, including efforts to transition the lead for security to Afghan forces.
In light of the November, 2011 cross-border incident, both sides expressed appreciation for the efforts by their respective militaries to improve operational coordination. Both sides reviewed the numerous challenges facing regional security, and shared their views regarding the importance of regional peace and stability.
Recognising the enduring security requirements on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the two delegations agreed to cooperate on a prioritised set of Pakistan’s defense requirements which will inform follow-on consultations on security assistance.
The United States and Pakistan also discussed the importance of the Coalition Support Fund and Security Assistance Programs, and agreed to continued consultations on the way forward.
The delegations reaffirmed the DCG remains an invaluable forum to discuss strategic defense policy issues and exchange views on shared security concerns, and committed to continue working together to implement a framework for defense cooperation based on areas of convergence between US and Pakistani interests to promote peace and stability in the region.