If country benefits, inter-military diplomacy can be useful

COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s visit to the USA, though essentially a routine one, raised a rumpus, mainly because it came with ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan still accusing General Bajwa and his institution of having conspired with the USA to oust him. It might be remembered that General Bajwa had last visited the USA while accompanying Mr Khan, almost as if to show him off. This time around, General Bajwa had another purpose: him saying that he would retire on time at the expiry of his tenure was of significance to the USA, even after discounting the conspiracy charge: the USA would have to prepare for a new interlocutor.

The USA knows the place of the COAS as one of Pakistan’s power-brokers. There are also certain areas where the USA and Pakistan have need of each other. While the USA needs access to Pakistan so as to keep an eye on Afghanistan, Pakistan also needs information that would help it combat the resurgence of terrorism. Pakistan also needs the USA to come good on its promises of extra aid for the current floods, over and above its other commitments and its good offices in the multilateral lending institutions. Then there is the vexed question of China. General Bajwa has to tread a tightrope in conveying that Pakistan cannot abandon ties with neither the USA nor China, even if there is hostility between the two.

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General Bajwa is not unused to diplomacy, and the USA is not the only country where he has been mending fences trampled by Imran Khan. Most memorably, he had to go to Beijing on a firefighting mission after PM’s Advisor Razzaq Dawood had made some pro-US comments, and then to Saudi Arabia after Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had also made some ill-advised comments. While it should not be the job of the COAS to solve diplomatic tangles, it can also cannot be denied that such service to the country is also a defence of the country’s borders. The need should not arise, but if it does, then those who serve must stand up and be counted.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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