KARACHI/ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON: The United States has high hopes for a respectful and better bilateral relationship with Pakistan, a Pentagon official said Thursday night, especially after the visit of US State Secretary Mike Pompeo and US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford.
Randall G. Schriver, the assistant defence secretary for the Department of Defence’s (DoD) Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, said the military linkages between the two countries have always remained a strong foundation for the two-way relations.
Speaking at an event organised to commemorate the Defense and Martyrs Day 2018 here at the Pakistani Embassy, Schriver said: “This is a day to celebrate your armed forces … It’s also a day to remember those who have sacrificed. And that very much includes the sacrifices made in the war on terror.”
The Pentagon official then spoke of the bumpy but somewhat healthy relationship that the US and Pakistan have maintained ever since the 9/11 attacks, saying the ally nation “was a friend, a supporter, and a key partner in our building to do that and has remained a key partner since.
“We know about the sacrifices that Pakistan has made in this long war on terror and we don’t take those sacrifices lightly. We value this relationship, we value this partnership.
He reiterated Gen Dunford’s Wednesday statement when he was about to travel from Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi to India.
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“The relationship — military-to-military — is one that has remained in a place where some of the other relationships haven’t,” the top US military official had said.
Noting that Pakistan is an important partner and ally of the US, the DoD officer noted that Islamabad has offered multiple sacrifices in the war against terror and that Washington respected these losses.
“We were important partners in a number of key areas, including our efforts to degrade Al Qaeda, the efforts to defeat [Daesh], the efforts made to the United Nations in peacekeeping, these are all areas where we cooperated and are achieving results and success,” he commented.
The United States is making active efforts to improve its relationship with the Pakistan Army, Schriver said, adding that the talks held between Pompeo, Dunford, and Islamabad’s top brass were in a favourable environment.
Pompeo, he said, “emerged from that visit with very hopeful words, he said every conversation he had, every interaction, he had a sense of hope that we are on a better path”.
Schriver added that Washington hopes to “improve this relationship and restore this toward full cooperation in all areas.
“We are very heartened by that. We look forward to building on the momentum that that visit created.”
In addition, the Pentagon official commented on the commendable personal relations between the two countries’ top military officials.
“We, at the Department of Defence, feel as though our relationship with Gen Qamar [Bajwa] is the bedrock and the real pillar of US-Pakistan relations.
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“I see that with Secretary [Jim] Mattis, General Dunford, General [Joseph] Votel; they all have personal ties, personal relationships, people they can pick up the phone and call, and those are relationships that are developed over years and years of interaction.
“While we may have some differences in some areas, we jealously guard that role as being the bedrock of this relationship and we will continue to promote very good quality interactions between the US military, Department of Defence, and the armed forces of Pakistan,” he said.
Mentioning that he was honoured to have been invited to the event, to “recognize the sacrifices, recognize the shared interest and all the important work we have going forward”, Schriver thanked Ambassador Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, COAS Gen Bajwa, and congratulated Pakistan on “your Defence Day”.