Pakistan

Gen Raheel Sharif to leave for US today

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif will leave on a six-day official visit to the United States today, ARY News reported.

The army chief will meet the military and political leadership of the US. Sources said the army chief will discuss matters pertaining to restoration of peace in Afghanistan and security of the entire region.

Sources said talks over deadlock between the Taliban and Afghan government will also come under discussion.

The November 15-20 visit comes weeks after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with US President Barack Obama at the Oval Office to discuss many of the same issues said to be on his army chief’s agenda, including Afghan peace talks and Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions.

Stability in Pakistan’s neighbour Afghanistan has spiralled after a Taliban surge in recent months, and Obama announced in October that Washington will keep thousands of soldiers in the country past 2016.

AFP adds: The ISPR statement issued this week said that Raheel Sharif will use the US trip to “clearly highlight Pakistan’s perspective of new emerging regional realities”, in what some saw as implied criticism of Nawaz Sharif’s government’s failure to take long-term steps to tackle extremism.

But other sources downplayed the significance of the question over who instigated the visit, with one security official saying all that matters is that the discussions are taking place, “even if we have proposed these meetings”.

Issues such as Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are being handled “by the military only”, he said, so it was natural for the army to want to talk to its US counterparts.

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