No crossing of redline, Kayani tells Mattis
Posted on 9 months ago
Pakistan's political, military requirements will determine when, where to launch operations
ISLAMABAD: Amidst reports, in national and foreign media, of a perceived joint operation by Pakistan and the United States against militants in North Waziristan, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Friday plainly told US CENTCOM Commander General James N. Mattis that there was no question of allowing any foreign force to cross the redline and operate even jointly with Pakistan military on its soil.
"Pakistan's national interest continues to be the prime consideration for any decision in this regard," the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quoted General Kayani as telling General Mattis who had arrived here on a two-day visit late on Thursday.
After the reopening of the NATO supplies, ISI DG Lt-General Zaheerul Islam's visit to the United States and General Kayani's meeting with ISAF Commander General James Allen, the foreign, particularly American, media and some mavericks in Pakistan started predicting that a joint operation would be launched soon as Washington and Islamabad had reached an understanding to act together against militants in North Waziristan.
The COAS categorically dispelled the speculative reporting in US media regarding an understanding given to General Allen about Pakistan army's readiness to launch joint operations in North Waziristan. He said that no operation would be launched under any pressure.
He also unmistakably conveyed to General Mattis that, if necessary, Pakistan might undertake operations in North Waziristan but the decision when and where to launch the operations would be solely decided by Pakistan. "And, it will be determined only by our political and military requirements," he told the CENTCOM Commander.
"They discussed matters of mutual interest at length," the ISPR said after a meeting between the two generals, adding that the COAS clarified Pakistan's position by referring to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement in which she talked of "coordinated actions against terrorists who threaten Pakistan and the region". To remove the misperception and misunderstanding, the ISPR distinguished between "coordinated action" and "joint operation", saying that a coordinated action implied that Pakistan army and the ISAF would conduct operation on respective sides of the Pak-Afghan border. As far the joint operation, the ISPR said it meant that the two forces would be physically employed jointly on one (either) side of the border. "A joint operation in this sense is unacceptable to the people and Armed forces of Pakistan. This has always been our clearly stated redline," the ISPR said, however, adding that for a coordinated action intelligence sharing was the mainstay of mutual cooperation. According to the ISPR, both sides expressed satisfaction over the level of cooperation between the two militaries and resolved to continue it to further improve relations between the two countries.
A US embassy statement said that General Mattis had held a series of meetings with senior Pakistani leaders including General Kayani, Secretary of Defense Lt-General (Retd) Asif Yasin Malik and other senior military officials. "A wide range of common security issues including militant network activities and measures to improve cross-border cooperation were discussed," it said.
Acknowledging the sacrifices made by the Pakistani military in fight against violent extremists, General Mattis offered his condolences for nearly 5,000 Pakistani military personnel who had fallen in support of that cause. "General Mattis reaffirmed the importance of the US-Pakistani security relationship not only to ongoing operations in Afghanistan but also to regional stability. They agreed to continue to meet periodically to further common objectives on cross-border cooperation and regional security," the US embassy said. A senior official, however, said it was quite possible that a coordinated operation might take place with Pakistan military operating on its side and the ISAF operating on Afghan side simultaneously to tighten the noose around the militants.
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