Pak, US defence dialogue starts today

Kamran Yousaf
Pakistan and the United States will kick off a three-day defence dialogue in Washington on Monday (today) in a move highlighting renewed interest by both sides to reset their bilateral cooperation.

This is the second round of Pakistan-US Mid-Level Defence Dialogue scheduled for February 13 to 16 in Washington DC.

The first round of the dialogue was held in Pakistan in January 2021.

“Pakistan’s inter-agency delegation, led by the chief of general staff, will comprise of senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joint Staff Headquarters and three services headquarters,” a statement issued here on Sunday by the Foreign Office read.

The US multi-agency team will be represented by the Office of Undersecretary of Defence, it added.

The statement said issues of bilateral defence and security cooperation will be discussed during the dialogue.

The future of Pak-US relationship remains uncertain after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 and Washington’s changing priorities where the focus is more on building ties with India to counter China.

But the defence dialogue suggests that the US did not want to completely abandon Pakistan.

In September last year, the Biden administration had proposed $450 million sale for Pakistan to refurbish its fleet of F-16 fighters.

The move would help Pakistan sustain the country’s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price had said: “This is a fleet that allows Pakistan to support counterterrorism operations, and we expect Pakistan will take sustained action against all terrorist groups.”

He maintained, “Pakistan is an important partner in a number of regards, an important counterterrorism partner. And as part of our longstanding policy, we provide lifecycle maintenance and sustainment packages for US-origin platforms.”

The spokesperson said that the country was an important part of a broader US-Pakistan bilateral relationship and the proposed sale would sustain Islamabad’s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats by maintaining the F-16 fleet.

February 13, 2023

Source; The Express Tribune

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