ISLAMABAD: Ahead of a crucial visit by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan and army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday held a meeting to discuss the US-Pakistan relations in the backdrop of recent spat between Islamabad and Washington.
It was the third formal interaction between the PM and army chief since the former assumed office of the prime minister on August 18. The meeting was held at the PM Office.
According to a PM Office handout, ‘matters related to security’ were discussed in the moot. However, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf through its official Twitter account later elaborated that “Defense Day, US-Pakistan relations, and internal and external security situation” came under discussion.
Pompeo is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on a short visit on Wednesday (tomorrow).
The visit is already marred by a controversy over a telephonic conversation between the PM and Pompeo on August 23 as the two sides issued divergent statements after the telephonic contact.
Recent US decision to stop US$300 million payment to Islamabad under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) has further troubled the already tense relationship between the two nations.
Islamabad on Sunday cautiously reacted to the US cancellation of payment, insisting that the money is not an ‘assistance rather reimbursements’ for the country’s expenses in the fight against terrorism.
“This is not an aid. This is our money that we have spent in the fight against terrorism,” the foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi insisted on Sunday but stopped short of denouncing the US move.
According to defense analysts, PM-army chief meeting is aimed to chalk out a joint strategy ahead of the secretary of state’s visit in a bid to give an impression that newly installed democratic government in the country and the Pakistan Army are on the same page when it comes to the US-Pakistan relations.
Earlier, the Pakistan had contested the State Department’s version over the maiden telephonic talk between Pompeo and the prime minister. The US State Department had claimed that Pompeo raised the issue of alleged presence of terrorists groups on the Pakistani soil.
Islamabad had denied the claim. Later, the Foreign Office spokesperson said Pakistan had decided to move on after the State Department reportedly shared a transcript of the telephonic conversation with Pakistan that backed the US claim about contents of the discussion. Reportedly, the Islamabad has now decided not to react strongly at this stage and instead to wait for the visit of the secretary.