A top US commander on Friday said his country is fully aware of the plans of other regional players to become active in Afghanistan once international forces leave the war-torn country by the end of this year.
Gen Lloyd Austin, the chief of Central Command (Centcom), expressed these views in a meeting with Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik on Friday, says an official statement issued by the Ministry of Defence.
According to the statement, Gen Austin and the defence secretary discussed important issues arising from the drawdown of international troops in Afghanistan and its effects on regional and international dynamics.
“Once US leaves Afghanistan, other regional players will become active and Washington is fully cognizant of the emerging dynamics,” the Centcom chief was quoted as saying.
Pakistan is wary of India’s increased involvement in Afghan affairs and is concerned over its possible negative fallout.
A defence source said Gen Austin’s statement was a response to Islamabad’s apprehensions about attempts by certain countries, including India, to use Afghanistan to pursue their agenda.
The Centcom chief said Pakistan had suffered a lot during the last decade and the sacrifices for regional and international peace and stability were fully acknowledged by the US.
The defence secretary, meanwhile, insisted that Pakistan “fully believes and supports the policy of non-interference in Afghanistan”. He said Pakistan bases its relation with US on the pretext of mutual interest and respect for each others’ perspectives. Gen Austin also met Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Rashad Mahmood separately at the Joint Staff Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
According to a US Embassy statement, “Gen Austin discussed a wide range of common security issues with the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Chief of Army Staff, along with other senior military officials.”
“Gen Austin was grateful for the opportunity to continue dialogue with his Pakistani counterparts and reaffirmed the importance of the US-Pakistan relationship to regional stability,” it adds.
Corps Commanders meeting
Top military commanders met in Rawalpindi on Thursday to discuss the current internal and regional security situation. The routine corps commanders meeting was chaired by the army chief.
The Inter-Services Public Relations said professional matters were discussed in the meeting and participants undertook a comprehensive review of the prevalent internal and external security situation of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2014.
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