Contacts with Nato and Isaf resume
ISLAMABAD: A meeting of senior military officials of Pakistan, Afghanistan and coalition forces based in Afghanistan held on Wednesday for discussing border security and coordination marked the formal resumption of military contacts with the US and Nato after months of estrangement in the aftermath of Nov 26 strikes on Pakistani border posts.
“Representatives of Isaf, ANA and Pakistan Army met at Border Coordination Centre (BCC) in Torkham today under tripartite engagement format to discuss and improve various coordination measures on Pak-Afghan border,” a military
The Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), Maj-Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed, represented Pakistan at the meeting, which was technically the highest level of military interaction among the three sides since the Salala incident after which Pakistan had closed the crucial Nato supply route, evicted US personnel from Shamsi airbase, and essentially put the entire bilateral relationship on hold.
The meeting served to resume coordination at a higher level and a source pointed out that it involved directors general of military operations, who form the middle tier of the three-layered tripartite mechanism, a joint forum on military and security issues that brings together representatives from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nato-led Isaf.
“The officers at the Torkham meeting discussed tactical level coordination and the problems they routinely confront in different areas,” the official explained.
The meeting has taken place amid signs of a thaw in Pakistan-US relations. US Centcom Commander Gen James Mattis is expected to meet Army Chief Gen Kayani some time later this month for discussing investigations into border attacks.
The date for Gen Mattis’ visit is likely to be announced once the parliament completes its review of relations with Washington.
The Parliamentary Commission on National Security that had been tasked with formulating recommendations for redefining terms of engagement with the US has completed its job. But, a joint session of parliament is yet to be convened for ratifying the recommendations.
The tripartite meeting happened hours after a drone attack in North Waziristan left 10 people dead.
Drone attacks have been a contentious issue. Publicly Pakistani officials denounce it as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, but privately admit that the drone war has had tactical advantages against militants in the tribal belt.
Agencies add: The US and Pakistan disagree on who should be blamed for the deadly incident in November, which occurred in the middle of the night as American and Afghan forces were conducting operations near the border inside Afghanistan.
The Pakistani army rejected a US investigation into the Salalah post attacks that said mistakes had been made on both sides and blamed Pakistani troops for triggering the incident by shooting at coalition forces.
Islamabad said its soldiers were shooting at militants who were nowhere near the coalition troops. It blamed US forces for the incident, saying they failed to notify their Pakistani counterparts that they were conducting operations near the border.
The US has said its commanders believed some of their military operations were compromised when they have given details and locations to the Pakistanis — an example of the lack of trust between the two countries.
The US has acknowledged that efforts to determine whether there were friendly Pakistani forces in the area failed because US forces used inaccurate maps, were unaware of Pakistani border post locations and mistakenly provided the wrong location for the troops.
Pakistan has dismissed these explanations and claimed the incident was “deliberate at some level”. It refused to participate in the US investigation, claiming past probes into border incidents were biased.