Afghanistan: Pakistan Army chief in Kabul for top-level defence conference

Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has arrived in Kabul to attend a Chief of Defense Conference, the Afghan Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed on Tuesday.

The United States Central Command commander Joseph Votel, Commander Resolute Support Mission John Nicholson and Afghan Army Chief Mohammad Sharif Yaftali are also attending.

TOLOnews reported that at the meeting, the army chiefs, representatives of the armies of central Asian countries, the Afghan government and NATO officials would discuss the fight against insurgency and also increasing of military cooperation between the countries, according to Afghan officials.

The conference comes less than a month after a series of deadly attacks rattled Kabul, following which a high-level delegation from Afghanistan comprising the interior minister and spy chief had visited Islamabad with a ‘personal message’ from President Ashraf Ghani.

The participation of Pakistan army chief also holds significance given that the despite Pak-Afghan delegations meeting for talks both in Kabul and Islamabad, little headway has been made on the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), which is a Pakistani initiative for cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism and reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation, refugees’ repatriation and joint economic development.

On the sidelines of the meeting, army chiefs of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan will meet with President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace and will discuss increasing of cooperation between these countries.

Recently, these central Asian countries indicated they would be willing to cooperate with Afghanistan in the peace process, the fight against insurgency and drug production and trafficking.

Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have both in the past shown concern over insurgent activities in the north of Afghanistan. But NATO officials said they have started fighting insurgents in the north of Afghanistan.

The US military says it carried out a series of punishing bombings last weekend against Taliban militant camps that also support a separatist Chinese terror group.

US Air Force Maj. Gen. James Hecker said that his forces launched a record number of precision-guided munitions launched at one time from a B-52 bomber last week on Taliban hideouts in a region bordering China and Tajikistan.

The Afghan military said the camps in remote Badakhshan province supported Taliban operations within Afghanistan and by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement — set up by members of China’s minority Uighur community — on the border region with China and Tajikistan.

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