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Pakistan Army chief to visit US next month

Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif. File Pic
Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif. File Pic

To further strengthen the military ties between the two countries, Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif will visit United States next month for talks with US military officials.

Islamabad, Oct 27/Nationalturk – Pakistan’s powerful army chief General Raheel Sharif will visit United States next month for talks with US military officials.

General Sharif will visit US on a week-long visit starting November 16. “During the visit, he is expected to meet US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff  Gen Dempsey, Commander of US Central Command Gen Lloyd J Austin and other officials of  American defence establishment”.

He is also likely to visit Centcom headquarters in Tampa, Florida, as its area of responsibility includes both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

First formal consultations after US-Afghan signed treaty

The visit marks the first formal consultations between the top military brass of US and Pakistan after United States and Afghanistan signed a bilateral treaty agreement in September. The agreement paves the way for deployment some 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan after UN-sponsored international combat mission ends on Dec 31 this year.

Officials said there will be a thorough discussion on strategic issues during Gen Sharif’s visit to US.

“He will also discuss Pakistan army’s military operation named Zarb-e-Azb in country’s North Waziristan tribal region,” they said adding he will press US officials to impress on Afghan security officials to cooperate with Pakistan and prevent its country from being used as sanctuary by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants, who are on run following military operation in tribal region.

‘TTP sets up new sanctuaries in Afghanistan’

Pakistan security officials have claimed that under attack TTP has set up new sanctuaries in neighbouring Afghanistan.

“We have found evidence of new sanctuaries set up by TTP and its affiliates in the Afghan territory near the border with North Waziristan Agency, where a massive military operation has been ongoing since mid-June,” a senior security official was quoted as saying by Pakistan newspaper, Express Tribune.

The official said new sanctuaries have been established to create difficulties for Pakistan’s military in the troubled agency. “It is a worrying development that the TTP is regrouping close to the border right under the nose of the Afghan security forces”.

He alleged that despite repeated requests, Afghan authorities have done little to dislodge militants from their side of the Durand Line. “The lack of action from Afghan authorities has encouraged the terrorists to carve out new sanctuaries.”

Pakistan has been asking Afghanistan to eliminate ‘safe havens’ of the TTP in northeastern Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. Pakistan security officials have been claiming that TTP chief Mullah Fazllullah is hiding in Afghanistan.

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