Top American general Mark A Milley has told the country’s lawmakers that the United States needs to maintain strong military ties with Pakistan. “While we have suspended security assistance and paused major defense dialogues, we need to maintain strong military-to-military ties based on our shared interests,” Milley said.
“President’s South Asia Strategy recognizes Pakistan as a key partner in achieving US interests in South Asia, including developing a political settlement in Afghanistan; defeating al-Qa’ida (AQ) and ISIS-Khorasan; providing logistical access for US forces; and enhancing regional stability,” he said on Thursday.
“If confirmed as Chairman, my objective would be to preserve the defense relationship between the United States and Pakistan even as we press Pakistan to take action on US requests,” he added.
Responding to another question, Milley said Pakistan has made positive contributions in support of Afghan reconciliation.
However, since the suspension of security assistance, Pakistan has also expanded its outreach to other countries, including Russia and China, to meet its security and economic assistance needs, he said.
This comes ahead of the scheduled meeting of US President Donald Trump and Pakistan PM Imran Khan on July 22 in Washington DC. The two leaders would discuss a range of issues, including counter-terrorism, defence, energy, and trade, the White House said.
The visit will focus on strengthening cooperation between the US and Pakistan to bring peace, stability, and economic prosperity to a region that has seen far too much conflict, it said.
“President Trump and Prime Minister Khan will discuss a range of issues, including counterterrorism, defense, energy, and trade, with the goal of creating the conditions for a peaceful South Asia and an enduring partnership between our two countries,” the statement added.
Prime Minister Khan will make his maiden trip to the United States on the invitation of President Trump, Foreign Office Spokesperson Muhammad Faisal announced during his weekly press conference in Islamabad on June 4.
In September, Khan will travel to New York to represent Pakistan at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). It would be his first UNGA session since he assumed office in August 2018.