Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on Monday left for an official visit to Beijing. According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army chief will hold talks with top Chinese political and military leadership on strategic issues.
“During the visit, the COAS will call on China’s political and military leadership. The interaction will encompass Pak-China relations with particular emphasis on defence and security cooperation,” said the statement.
Sources familiar with the itinerary said that apart from bilateral security and defence cooperation, the army chief would discuss the current regional situation particularly in Afghanistan.
Both Pakistan and China are closely watching developments unfolding in Afghanistan ahead of the US drawdown from there by the end of this year.
The two countries are seeking a clear roadmap leading to long term peace and stability in Afghanistan.
General Raheel is also expected to brief the Chinese leadership about the steps Islamabad has taken to deal with the threat of militancy stemming from the tribal areas.
Beijing has been following developments in the ongoing infighting within the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) because it believes that some militant groups in tribal areas are linked to the separatist movement in its Xinjiang region.
The leadership in China has publically praised Islamabad’s efforts in the battle against extremism. However, privately it has urged Pakistan to eliminate militant outfits linked to stoking unrest in Xinjiang.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2014.