PM, COAS review relations with US, other issues prior to Pompeo’s visit

PM, COAS review relations with US, other issues prior to Pompeo's visit
ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa called on Prime Minister Imran Khan here at Prime Minister's Office, Monday. - PID photo

ISLAMABAD: In the wake of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s scheduled visit to the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa discussed on Monday ties between the two countries among other matters of mutual interest.
Internal and external security situation of the country and matters related to upcoming Defence Day were also discussed in the meeting, which took place at the PM Secretariat in Islamabad, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said on its official Twitter account.
This is PM Khan’s third meeting with the army chief after assuming charge of the country’s top office last month.
The meeting came a day after the government reacted cautiously to the US cancellation of $300 million in aid to Pakistan, insisting the money is not assistance but reimbursements for the country’s expenses in the fight against terrorism.
However, what was significant in the hurriedly-called news conference of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday was that the government had decided not to react in a knee-jerk manner.
The guarded reaction came after consultations at the Foreign Office where other state institutions also gave their inputs on how to respond to the latest US move.
It was decided not to react strongly at this stage and instead wait for the visit of US Secretary of State Pompeo, who along with top US military officer General Joseph Dunford, is due in Islamabad on Wednesday.
The visit is already marred by a controversy over a telephonic conversation between PM Khan and the secretary of state. The two sides issued divergent statements after the telephonic conversation.
Pakistan contested the State Department’s version that Pompeo had raised the issue of the presence of terrorist groups on the Pakistani soil with the new prime minister. However, 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.
Meanwhile, former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani, citing diplomatic norms of protocol, has said that the prime minister should not meet Pompeo during his visit and the country’s foreign minister should instead meet his US counterpart.
The senator opined that the recent cut in ‘aid’ was part of measures to pressurise Pakistan and mentioned Pompeo’s recent statement, in which he discouraged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from providing Pakistan with a bailout, alleging the money would be used to repay Chinese loans as a previous measure.
Agencies add: The COAS also met the prime minister on August 27 with the two expressing their resolve to continue efforts for enduring peace and stability in the country. During this meeting the Army chief also felicitated Imran Khan on assuming the office of the prime minister. On August 30, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the General Headquarters (GHQ) and assured that the government would provide all resources to require and maintain the capability and capacity of the Army.
Prime Minister Khan said the country was facing both internal and external challenges and these could be overcome with the support of the nation and a cohesive national approach.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa thanked the prime minister for posing confidence in the Army.
According to the ISPR press release: “The COAS assured that Pakistan Army would Inshallah continue to deliver on the nation’s expectations of defending the motherland at all costs and sacrifices.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday sought within a week, a comprehensive and coherent plan of action for the materialization of PTI’s manifesto promise, for construction of low-cost five million houses to address the lingering issue.
Chairing a meeting on the construction of affordable houses at the Prime Minister Office, the Prime Minister said the construction plans were the priority of the government and would not only address this long standing issue in major cities but would also promote economic growth and create job opportunities.
The prime minister directed formation of a committee under Secretary Housing and Works to study international models and come up with a road-map, in consultation with experts and representatives of concerned departments, while taking into account all aspects.
He said it should include the legal framework, availability of the land, banking support and raising of required resources for smooth implementation of the project. The Committee would submit its initial recommendations to the Prime Minister within one week.
The Prime Minister said there was a need to simultaneously devise a comprehensive mechanism for regulating katchi-abaadis and slums without dislocating the poor and ensuring provision of all civic amenities to the people in those areas.
The meeting was attended by Yaqoob Izahar, Najeeb Haroon, Arshad Dad, Secretary Housing & Works Dr. Imran Zeb Khan, Secretary Law Justice (Retd) Abdul Shakoor Paracha and other senior officers.
The Prime Minister said the private sector should be encouraged and provided maximum facilities to all those who would be partnering with the government in the implementation of the ‘Five Million Housing Program.’