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Friday, July 19, 2024  
13 Muharram 1446  

Pakistan’s civilian govt is our primary interlocutor: US

US State Dept spokesperson Ned Price speaks about COAS Bajwa meeting with US Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price during a press briefing. Reuters/File
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price during a press briefing. Reuters/File

The United States administration has said that Pakistan’s civilian government was the “primary interlocutor” between the two countries, which have a number of shared interests.

“We have a number of shared interests with our Pakistani partners,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a press briefing on Tuesday. “There are security interests, there are economic interests, there are people-to-people ties and connections as well, but I’m just not going to speak to it.”

Price said this in response to a query related to media reports in Pakistan questioning the timing of Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa’s visit to Washington, DC because the latter’s second three-year term as chief of army staff was going to be ended in the next few weeks.

Read: Armed forces have distanced themselves from politics: COAS Bajwa

“I am just not going to characterize the meeting beyond what I said earlier,” he said to reports that the COAS apparently discussed the chaotic political situation of Pakistan with the American administration and the possible appointment of a new army chief.

COAS Bajwa visited America last week and met with US officials in which both sides agreed on the necessity for cooperation to avoid a humanitarian crisis and improve peace and stability in the region.

To an earlier query about COAS Bajwa’s meetings with US officials, Price said that US Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman did have an opportunity to meet with the chief of the army staff.

Read: Appointing army chief of your own choice proves costly: Khawaja Asif

“We value our longstanding cooperation with Pakistan. There are a number of areas where our interests are aligned,” he said, “of course, the stability and the future of Afghanistan, of the Afghan people, the security challenges that the region and potentially beyond face there always are on the agenda when we have high-level engagements with our Pakistani counterparts. We meet with and speak with them regularly on a range of issues. But as is standard practice, we don’t delve into the details of those engagements always.”

The US State Dept spokesperson said that he does not have any meetings to read out while responding to a question about the COAS Bajwa’s meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Flood aid

The US was “serious” about reports of “massive corruption and looting of relief items” not only in Pakistan but around the world where American taxpayer dollars were implicated.

Out of $150 million only $38 million has been converted into assistance, a UN report said.

“A couple of examples of what we do to monitor and to ensure that we have adequate tracking mechanisms in this context,” Price elaborated.

Firstly, the USAID staff members make regular trips to monitor the programmes in the field. The US has a Disaster Assistance Response Team (Dart) whose members travel to more than 10 flood affected districts in Balochistan and Sindh.

They did so between – around mid-last month, so between 14 September and 27 September – to assess not only the humanitarian conditions but also the response activities and to make sure that those response activities were meeting the humanitarian need.

“We also are required to provide regular program updates on the progress of activities and any security concerns, and we require them – our partners – to immediately report any potential diversions, seizures, or losses immediately. So this is something we take very seriously.”

The US State Department spokesperson said that the goal of the incumbent US administration has been to build bridges between Israel and its Arab and Muslim-majority neighbors, and “even countries that are slightly further afield.” However, he added that Washington’s partners in Israel and Pakistan should be consulted for an apparent visit of a group of Pakistani Americans and Pakistani nationals to Israel and meeting with Israeli President Herzog there.

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Army Chief

Pakistan

United States

General Qamar Javed Bajwa

Ned Price

USA

Chief of the Army Staff