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Pakistan Army chief Asim Munir first US Washington visit

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Gen. Munir's US visit

Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Syed Asim Munir, has left on Sunday for US on an official visit, said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement. According to the army’s media wing, this is General Syed Asim Munir’s first visit to USA as COAS. During his visit, General Syed Asim Munir is scheduled to meet the senior military and other government officials of USA. The COAS’s visit comes after senior US officials visited Pakistan last week. A senior Biden administration official dealing with refugee issues conducted a four-day trip to Islamabad in the first of a series of visits by American officials amid deteriorating ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Julieta Valls Noyes, the US assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration came Pakistan and stayed in the federal capital. On conclusion of her visit on December 7, US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Tom West arrived on a trip to Islamabad. After his visit, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Horst, who is responsible for Pakistan, arrived here on December 9.

United States Special Representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West, concluded his two-day visit after holding talks with Pakistan’s top civil and military leadership on the security threat posed by banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Afghan refugees related issues. The top Biden administration diplomat visited Pakistan from 7 to 9 December. In a statement on the social media platform, X, at the conclusion of the trip, West said that he departed Islamabad after a “productive” two-day visit.

“Important conversations with (caretaker Foreign Minister) Jalil Abbas Jilani, Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir, (Special Representative on Afghanistan) Asif Durrani, and MOI Secretary Durrani about grave security challenges posed by TTP as well as imperative to protect Afghan refugees,” he said. He added that the United States stands with Pakistan against terrorism in the region.

“We are also grateful for close communication with Islamabad regarding refugee protection issues, including collaboration with IOs and humane and dignified treatment,” he added. The flurry of visits by American officials comes against the backdrop of Pakistan’s move to evict all illegal Afghans, rising tensions with the Afghan Taliban over the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the upcoming general elections in February.

“Pakistan and the United States continue to hold consultations on a range of issues. To advance these consultations, exchange of visits also takes place,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in a statement while giving context of the visits. Pakistan has launched a crackdown on the Afghans living in the country illegally, following the expiry of the October 31 deadline. Since then, the US has been in touch with Pakistan to ensure that Afghans, who were illegible for immigration to the US were spared.

Distinguished print and TV journalist and anchorperson Kamran Khan took to his ‘X’ account and wrote visit of the COAS to America. He wrote: “Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir has left for the United States on an official visit. He’s the first Pakistan army chief to visit the US since Gen Raheel Sharif’s official visit to the US in November 2015. First in 8 years official visit to the U.S. by Pakistani military chief comes at a crucial juncture.

Most importantly war is raging in Gaza and Ukraine; Afghanistan under Taliban failed to keep its promises with international community and remain source of terrorism in Pakistan; importantly elections are due in Pakistan and India with in next several months. Sources say during his about a weeklong visit to US, COAS Gen Asim Munir will meet US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, US National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan, Director CIA William F Burns and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Q Brown Jr.”

Pakistan-US relations preceding the visit

US-Pakistan relations hit a recent low point in 2018 when President Trump suspended security assistance and coalition support funding to Pakistan over accusations that Pakistan was providing safe havens to the Afghan Taliban and other groups, despite receiving billions in aid over the years. This aid cutoff was a major blow after a prolonged period of strained relations during the Obama years as well. In 2018, the US demanded decisive action from Pakistan against terrorists operating along the Pakistan-Afghan border, including the Haqqani network.

US officials and military commanders had presented evidence of covert Pakistani support to the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan for years, tracing Taliban arms and ammunition back to Pakistani military suppliers. Pakistan denied these accusations and noted the thousands of casualties from terror attacks suffered on Pakistani soil as proof of its serious counterterrorism efforts. Tensions rose further in 2019 when India revoked the special autonomous status for Jammu and Kashmir, causing outrage in Pakistan.

The US remained mostly neutral during this flare-up between the two nuclear armed neighbors, merely calling for restraint on both sides rather than outright condemning India’s move despite close US-India ties. Pakistan was disappointed at the lack of concrete support from the US on this critical issue. Later in 2019, President Trump met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House in an attempt to improve strained relations.

Trump offered to mediate the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan if asked, stoking further controversy. He also discussed restoring some amount of suspended US military aid to Pakistan going forward. However, the meeting did not lead to any breakthrough agreements. In February 2020, the US and Taliban signed an historic agreement laying out a timeline for withdrawing all foreign troops from Afghanistan over 14 months if the Taliban met commitments to prevent terrorism.

Pakistan again played an outsized role, helping facilitate and broker talks between US diplomats and Taliban representatives in Doha leading up to the deal. The breakthrough created hopes that years of civil war in Afghanistan could finally come to a close. However, deadly attacks in Afghanistan continued, violence remained high, and both the Taliban and Afghan government appeared reluctant to compromise.

By early 2021 after President Biden took office, senior American generals advised delaying the US pullout deadline as peace negotiations stalled between warring Afghan factions. Biden though still ordered all US forces out by September 2021 despite the shaky status of intra-Afghan talks and likelihood of Taliban advances or civil war without foreign troops. As feared by critics, soon after US withdrawal the Taliban rapidly conquered district after district, capturing Kabul itself by mid-August 2021.

They announced the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Pakistan found itself with a friendly Taliban regime across the border but plagued by instability with spillover effects including refugee outflows, militant crossings and political uncertainty regarding Afghanistan’s trajectory. In September 2021 in the chaotic aftermath of the Taliban takeover, secret CIA chief William Burns made an unannounced trip to Pakistan to meet military leaders, demonstrating the criticality of intelligence and counterterrorism cooperation for the US in monitoring regional terrorist threats post-Afghanistan.

US officials likely hoped Pakistan could use its leverage with the Taliban to advance US counterterror objectives and moderate its harsh Islamic rule. The Taliban victory also sparked a resurgence of terror attacks by the TTP Pakistani Taliban, a separate group but ideological brethren to the Afghan Taliban. By 2022 and 2023, TTP attacks within Pakistan such as suicide bombings sharply increased, killing scores of Pakistani military and civilians.

This raised further doubts about Pakistan’s reliability as a US counterterror partner, despite Pakistani officials promising redoubled efforts against domestic terror networks as well as those operating from Afghan soil. On balance, recent years have witnessed major turbulence in US-Pakistan security relations due to the failure of Washington’s state-building project in Afghanistan, subsequent chaotic withdrawal, Islamist takeover by the Taliban, and fears of regional instability or terrorism taking deeper root.

Pakistan likely hopes to convince American officials led by CIA Director Burns that they remain critical to US strategic interests in South Asia. But years of mistrust and divergent interests on Afghanistan’s future direction will not be quick or easy to resolve.

In early 2022, Pakistan experienced a period of major domestic political turmoil when opposition parties introduced a no-confidence motion seeking to remove sitting Prime Minister Imran Khan from power. Khan had claimed an international conspiracy involving the United States was attempting to facilitate his ouster. Specifically, Khan referred cryptically to a supposed “threat letter” that provided evidence of the conspiracy against him.

He alleged the letter showed Washington and Pakistani opposition politicians colluding to unseat him over his foreign policy choices, particularly his visit to Moscow to meet Vladimir Putin on the very eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the full supposed “cypher” letter was never officially released leaving the accusations disputed. Ultimately, the no confidence vote succeeded in the National Assembly in April 2022, removing Khan from the prime ministership he had held since the 2018 elections.

Political chaos ensued for weeks until the appointment of new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in coalition with many opposition parties. During the turmoil, Khan channeled public sentiment to frame his downfall as a grievous national insult caused by meddling Americans. For the US, accusations of actively engineering Khan’s removal threatened to inflame already shaky relations. Washington denied interfering in any improper way in Pakistan’s internal politics.

Experts viewed Khan’s conspiracy claims as mostly face-saving propaganda for domestic consumption, allowing him to channel rising anti-American sentiment after his Russia visit seemed potentially to undermine US interests. With Khan continuing to push protests and demand early elections to possibly return to power, the cipher case also took on legal dimensions still playing out in Pakistani courts regarding the specific evidence and proper procedures for removing prime ministers.

These developments together have added to the atmosphere of uncertainty, distrust and perceived threat or disrespect in ongoing dealings between American and Pakistani officials. However, strategists on both sides likely realize the dangers of a total break in relations given Pakistan’s location next to Afghanistan where the US still hopes to contain terrorism, and the history of security cooperation against groups like Al Qaeda. This has compelled efforts by General Asim Munir and CIA Director Burns during recent visits to limit further damage. But flare-ups around the cipher case have shown the potential to inflame public opinion and complicate diplomacy around shared interests.

III. Visit Outcomes

In a strategic move to reset diplomatic ties, Pakistan Army Chief General Asim Munir embarked on his first official trip to the United States. The visit holds significant importance as General Munir aims to navigate through complex issues and rejuvenate the relationship between the two nations. However, with challenges on multiple fronts, the success of this endeavour remains uncertain.

General Munir’s mission involves not only strategic discussions but also crucial financial negotiations. Traditionally, such matters are handled by the prime minister, but in Pakistan, the army chief often takes the lead in serious negotiations. The financial aspect of the reset includes trade where the US serves as Pakistan’s largest export market, aid with close to $32 billion provided in 20 years and support at the International Monetary Fund where the US holds a substantial voting share of approximately 16 per cent.

Amidst the financial discussions, security concerns take centre stage. General Munir faces a formidable challenge in addressing the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) threat. The recent surge in TTP activities including daring attacks on an army base resulting in over 20 casualties prompts General Munir to seek US support. This involves not only potential military aid but also urging Washington to exert pressure on Kabul given the links between the TTP and the Afghan Taliban.

General Munir’s mission involves not only strategic discussions but also crucial financial negotiations. Traditionally, such matters are handled by the prime minister, but in Pakistan, the army chief often takes the lead in serious negotiations. The financial aspect of the reset includes trade where the US serves as Pakistan’s largest export market, aid with close to $32 billion provided in 20 years and support at the International Monetary Fund where the US holds a substantial voting share of approximately 16 per cent.

Amidst the financial discussions, security concerns take centre stage. General Munir faces a formidable challenge in addressing the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) threat. The recent surge in TTP activities including daring attacks on an army base resulting in over 20 casualties prompts General Munir to seek US support. This involves not only potential military aid but also urging Washington to exert pressure on Kabul given the links between the TTP and the Afghan Taliban.

US-Afghanistan relations The US’s engagement with Kabul further complicates General Munir’s efforts. Recent talks and a positive US intelligence assessment suggesting a decline in Al Qaeda’s activities in the region pose challenges. Additionally, the Taliban’s counter-terrorism operations weakening groups like IS-K raise questions about Washington’s willingness to address Pakistan’s concerns. Another pressing issue on the agenda is the deportation of 1.7 million Afghan refugees from Pakistan. General Munir defends the decision citing financial losses caused by the refugees.

However, the dilemma lies in the fact that many of these refugees are awaiting American travel documents having assisted the US military in Afghanistan. The potential return of these refugees to a volatile Afghanistan raises humanitarian concerns and adds complexity to the negotiation table. Larger geopolitical landscape General Munir’s visit occurs against the backdrop of a complex global scenario with the US entangled in multiple conflicts and facing domestic challenges.

The South China Sea tensions and an impeachment inquiry against the president further contribute to the intricacies of the reset mission. As General Munir strives to reset US-Pakistan relations, the complexities surrounding financial dependencies, security threats and geopolitical challenges underscore the uphill battle he faces. The success of this mission hinges not only on finding common ground but also on capturing the attention of a distracted and internally focused United States.

Agreements announced (if any)

Not any that surfaced on media or anywhere else

Expectations

Pakistani Army chief Asim Munir is visiting Washington this week, at a time when the U.S.-Pakistan relationship is unsettled. Bilateral ties are relatively stable and crisis-free, but the future is uncertain: Washington and Islamabad have struggled to find new anchors for their partnership since U.S. forces left Afghanistan in 2021.

A visit from the leader of Pakistan’s powerful military offers opportunities for a reset, but policy divergences may make that difficult. Munir is different from his immediate predecessors in the army chief role. He doesn’t come from a military family, and he is not an alum of the prestigious Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad.

He also has few known links to the West, unlike many Pakistani generals who attended U.S. or British training academies and may have family there. Finally, Munir is deeply religious, and he says little publicly. However, Munir is a soldier to the core. He was born in Rawalpindi, home to Pakistan’s military headquarters, and he quickly rose through the ranks.

Like many previous Pakistani Army chiefs, he seeks friendly relations with Washington. In his nearly 13 months in the role, he has met twice in Rawalpindi with Michael Kurilla, the commander of U.S. Central Command, and has spoken twice by phone with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Munir is motivated by precedent.

Thanks to a legacy of education and training exchanges between the United States and Pakistan, officer-to-officer relations have long been warm—despite tensions over issues such as the Pakistani Army’s support for some terrorist groups. But Munir is also practical: Pakistan’s economy is in crisis, and the United States is its top export destination and a key source of aid. Munir also wants to tap into shared concerns about Afghanistan-based terrorist groups to help address a resurgence of militancy in Pakistan, led by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

On Tuesday, an attack by a TTP affiliate killed 23 troops in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. However, the top U.S. security concern in Afghanistan is Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), and in recent months, U.S. officials acknowledged that Taliban operations have reduced the IS-K threat, suggesting the United States has less of an incentive to partner with Pakistan.

. During Munir’s visit, he and his U.S. interlocutors may find common ground on non-security issues in Afghanistan, such as the delivery of humanitarian aid. Another major U.S. concern is Pakistan’s recent decision to expel 1.7 million undocumented Afghans. The Biden administration wants to ensure that those waiting for special immigration visas to the United States—including many people who worked with the U.S. military—won’t end up back in Afghanistan.

The Biden administration wants to shift the focus of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship away from Afghanistan and security issues and toward trade and investment. Because Pakistan’s military chiefs exert outsized influence over public policy, Munir may bring these issues up himself; he is directly involved in economic recovery efforts. But for Washington, commercial cooperation won’t be a realistic anchor for partnership until Islamabad’s economy is more stable.

Because Munir is meeting U.S. military and security officials, global conflicts are likely on the agenda. The Biden administration will want to hear from Munir on Russia’s war in Ukraine—multiple reports say Pakistan has sent arms to Ukraine, claims rejected by Islamabad—as well as on the war in Gaza. Pakistan backs the Palestinians; Munir, who once served in Saudi Arabia, also has close ties to the Persian Gulf states that are key to wartime diplomacy.

U.S. officials will also want to discuss China. Pakistan has recently signaled a desire to achieve more balance in its relations with the United States and China, a key Pakistani ally. However, back in Pakistan, domestic politics will loom large over Munir’s visit. Since he took office, crackdowns on the country’s political opposition have intensified. Former Prime Minister Imran Khan was jailed in August.

National elections are set for February, but delays are possible. Munir may tell his hosts in Washington that Pakistan’s army has a stabilizing role to play at a moment of serious political turmoil. Administration officials aren’t likely to push back. But Khan’s large support base perceives Munir’s visit, as well as Washington’s relative silence on the recent crackdowns, as a tacit endorsement of repression in Pakistan. Such perceptions could pose an additional challenge for U.S.-Pakistan relations going forward.

Military and Foreign Policy Conundrum Under Asim Munir

Functioning as a security state, Pakistan has long formulated its foreign policy choices based on security needs and the aspiration to establish itself as a hard military power. This approach has allowed the military to play a leading role in shaping both domestic and foreign policy decisions, often overshadowing civilian institutions. However, with changing global dynamics, the current civil-military establishment is actively signaling a shift in Pakistan’s strategic culture and foreign policy interests.

It has been just over a year since Gen. Asim Munir took command of Pakistan’s military, succeeding Gen. (retired) Qamar Javed Bajwa in late November 2022. Apart from stepping into the most powerful role in Pakistan, Gen. Munir also inherited the legacy of Gen. Bajwa’s military doctrine, which not only shaped Pakistan’s foreign policy but also presented considerable challenges for him to address.

Throughout his tenure, Gen. Bajwa orchestrated a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s traditional geostrategic focus, transitioning from geopolitics to geoeconomics. This shift involved broadening the scope of Pakistan’s national security, moving beyond a primary emphasis on military defense, and recognizing economic security as a crucial factor for achieving improved traditional security outcomes. To safeguard economic security, Gen.

Bajwa aimed to enhance Pakistan’s geostrategic importance by prioritizing regional connectivity and global development partnerships. He sought to position Pakistan as a key hub for trade, transit, and production in West, Central, and South Asia, intending to transition from aid-based dependencies to trade and investment partnerships.

Gen. Bajwa fell short of fully realizing his vision during his six years in office, with Pakistan continuing to rely heavily on International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans to support its declining economy. Gen. Munir now faces the challenging task of turning Gen. Bajwa’s unrealized vision into a reality. This requires cultivating positive interdependence and multi-alignment with a diverse range of partners, while also ensuring domestic stability.

An examination of Gen. Munir’s first year in office is crucial to assess his progress thus far and gain insight into the military’s current foreign policy vision. Munir doctrine A crucial aspect of Gen. Munir’s doctrine involves guiding Pakistan away from the strategic dilemma of choosing between the U.S. and China, and avoiding the significant costs it has incurred for Islamabad’s foreign policy.

Gen. Munir has made clear a preference for pursuing a hedging strategy, aiming to avoid getting entangled in global binary politics. His strategic approach is centered on maximizing Pakistan’s economic gains to avoid subservience to major powers and increase its room for maneuver. He articulated this vision for defending Pakistan’s sovereignty by building a robust economy, emphasizing that, “all Pakistanis must throw out the beggar’s bowl.”

At least three interrelated points characterize Gen. Munir’s foreign policy vision, each representing significant challenges he must confront. These observations are drawn from his statements and actions up to this point. First, he has expressed a commitment to project and advance a softer image of Pakistan. Second, he has demonstrated a keen interest in elevating Pakistan as a regional middle power.

Third, he has placed a significant focus on prioritizing geoeconomics over geopolitics. Revamping Pakistan’s image A state’s image and reputation are pivotal in achieving foreign policy goals. Pakistan’s global reputation is currently plagued by a host of domestic issues, all of which paint a picture of the country as a struggling democracy grappling with internal turmoil.

Recent regime changes, the constitutional crisis over the next general elections, growing insecurity and the rise in terrorist attacks, escalating debt, human rights violations, political instability, socioeconomic disparities, growing inflation, and energy crises have all taken a toll on Pakistan’s standing in the international community. The country is increasingly perceived as an elitist state that struggles to address the genuine concerns of its citizens, moving closer to a praetorian state.

This negative image is partly due to the hybrid governance model adopted prior to Gen. Munir’s appointment, disrupting the balance of power between civilian and military authorities. Under this system, the military has gained legal authority to govern key state institutions, but this has eroded its public image, a problem that has been exacerbated by allegations from popular leader Imran Khan of undermining democracy.

At present, there are lingering suspicions that the next general elections, currently scheduled for Feb. 8, 2024, may not take place until Khan is absent from the political landscape. Despite being imprisoned and facing a ban from politics, Khan maintains significant popularity compared to his political rivals. As long as his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party remains a legitimate political entity, it poses a potential risk of securing a majority in parliament, a scenario the military establishment is unwilling to tolerate.

For their part, Western nations, including the U.S. and EU, have issued warnings about potential consequences if the elections are delayed further or conducted unfairly. Adding to Pakistan’s challenges, a group of U.S. members of Congress recently urged the Biden administration to withhold military aid due to concerns over human rights abuses. Dismissing such negative perceptions, Gen. Munir has pledged his commitment to upholding democracy in Pakistan.

This underscores a major aspect of the Munir doctrine, which aims to restore the military’s soft image both at home and abroad while retaining its influence in the country’s governance. Affirming Gen. Munir’s position, Interim Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar has asserted that the military’s involvement in state governance is solely due to its organizational capabilities and has dismissed concerns that it might seek to manipulate the upcoming elections.

Transforming Pakistan into a stabilizing regional security actor Historically, Pakistan has leveraged its advanced military capabilities as a crucial asset in its foreign relations, a reason why its defense cooperation takes precedence over economic ties with other countries. This security-centric foreign policy strategy has played a pivotal role in sustaining the functionality and institutional capacity of the military, even during the most testing periods.

However, despite entering significant security and defense agreements, Pakistan has been unable to achieve much-needed stability and security. A primary factor contributing to this challenge is the hostile internal and regional security environment in which Pakistan is situated. Gen. Munir’s foreign policy vision reflects this strategic thinking, as evidenced by his statements and efforts in defense diplomacy. He has expressed his desire to defend Pakistan against internal and cross-border terrorism while simultaneously transforming the country into a stabilizing regional security actor.

In terms of foreign policy initiatives, Gen. Munir has carved out a distinctive path, particularly in relation to India and Afghanistan. Taking a stern stance toward India, Munir has issued warnings of a swift proportional response in the event of an attack. He has also accused India of waging a proxy war against Pakistan through terrorist organizations.

Deviating from the traditional friendly ties between Pakistan’s military and the Afghan Taliban, Gen. Munir has chosen to pursue a more adversarial policy toward the Kabul regime. Accusing the Afghan government of sheltering anti-Pakistan terrorists, he has threatened a robust military response if Pakistan’s security demands are not met.

The ongoing deportation of 1.7 million Afghans residing in Pakistan is evidence of Gen. Munir’s stringent policy against the Afghan Taliban. In defense of the massive deportations, Gen. Munir has contended that the expulsion of Afghans, whom he alleges to be involved in most terrorist activities in Pakistan, would enhance the country’s internal security.

Striving for strategic neutrality Gen. Munir has articulated his aspiration to safeguard Pakistan’s strategic autonomy and territorial integrity, with the objective of maintaining a neutral middle power status in the global context. This vision may have taken shape as a response to the deliberate strategic maneuvers of middle powers, which have astutely capitalized on the rivalry between the West and Russia, as well as the competition between the United States and China, to bolster their bargaining positions, all while avoiding being ensnared in their confrontations.

Achieving genuine neutrality may be a tall order though and would require, first and foremost, full independence from foreign aid. Unfortunately, at present Pakistan is highly reliant on external aid to meet its needs. Bound by geographic, geopolitical, and geoeconomic constraints, Pakistan often finds itself with limited options, at times playing a subservient role to major global powers. In the face of fervent appeals from substantial segments of Pakistani society, calling on the military to lend support to Hamas against Israel and to diplomatically boycott Western backers of Israel,

including the United States, Gen. Munir has opted to abstain from such actions. In contrast, he seems focused on navigating Pakistan’s response to the demands of both the United States and China without stirring tensions with either side. He has sought to enhance Pakistan-U.S. defense ties, rekindling U.S. interest in the country after a previous inclination to disengage. A notable case in point is the renewal of the Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), a crucial element of U.S.-Pakistan defense cooperation, through which the U.S. has extended its offer to assist Pakistan in counterterrorism efforts.

To further solidify ties, Gen. Munir visited Washington in mid-December for discussions with senior U.S. military and Biden administration officials, seeking to strengthen U.S.-Pakistan military cooperation and foster investment in Pakistan by urging the U.S. government to explore opportunities through the newly established Special Investment Facility Council (SIFC, see below).

As for China, despite reports of Beijing’s reluctance to add more projects to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) due to performance issues on Pakistan’s part, Gen. Munir’s renewed commitment to ensuring the security of Chinese interests has injected new life into previously stagnant CPEC projects. Prioritizing geoeconomics for Pakistan’s economic revival One of Gen.

Munir’s major foreign policy objectives is to address Pakistan’s economic challenges through cooperation with friendly nations. His vision for Pakistan’s economic growth and prosperity emerged when he took on a diplomatic role in securing funding from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to fulfill IMF preconditions for a crucial bailout package. While this prevented Pakistan from facing a debt default, it also brought significant embarrassment due to the harsh conditions attached to the IMF bailout in an already crisis-ridden country.

Indicating a shift away from geopolitics and toward geoeconomics, Gen. Munir has committed to leading Pakistan toward self-reliance by leveraging its resource advantages. His vision includes a policy aimed at ending dependency and promoting self-sufficiency. To expedite these initiatives, a new “single-window” investment facilitation body, the SIFC, was established under his leadership in June of this year.

Its primary objective is to attract foreign investments across various sectors, such as mining, agriculture, information technology, and energy, from affluent Gulf countries, China, and the United States. Gen. Munir has urged foreign investors to explore Pakistan’s untapped natural resources, estimated to be worth $6 trillion, including deposits of copper, gold, sulfur, lead, and zinc, among others.

He has also encouraged local investors to participate in these endeavors. In discussions with Pakistan’s business community, Gen. Munir outlined his plans for economic recovery. Emphasizing his commitment to geoeconomics, he underscored his efforts to convince Gulf monarchs to consider investing up to $100 billion in Pakistan. Gen. Munir’s broader approach to economic diplomacy underscores his vision, favoring development partnerships over development assistance. This shift also signifies a change in Pakistan’s traditional military approach of providing military bases to now offering economic bases.

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Post-Visit Scenarios

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Asim Munir’s visit to the USA served as a pivotal opportunity to set the stage for follow-on visits and exchanges between military officials from both nations. Diplomatic channels and military-to-military engagements play a crucial role in building trust, fostering understanding, and addressing shared security concerns.

During the visit, discussions likely centered on the need for sustained collaboration and dialogue. It is customary for such high-profile visits to pave the way for reciprocal engagements, such as visits by American military officials to Pakistan and joint exercises. These follow-on activities are essential for maintaining open lines of communication, sharing intelligence, and addressing evolving security challenges.

COAS Munir’s visit may have laid the groundwork for joint training programs, intelligence-sharing initiatives, and collaborative efforts in countering terrorism. The aim would be to enhance the interoperability of the two armed forces and strengthen their ability to respond to regional security threats effectively.

The outcome of these arrangements could lead to increased coordination on issues ranging from counterterrorism operations to border security. Joint exercises, training programs, and regular exchanges of military personnel would contribute to building a more robust and cooperative military relationship between the US and Pakistan.

As follow-on visits and exchanges materialize, the sustained engagement between military officials would contribute to the overall stability and resilience of the bilateral relationship. These interactions serve as a tangible demonstration of the commitment to long-term collaboration, beyond the immediate challenges or political changes in either country.

Changes in US Military/Economic Aid Levels

One of the key aspects influencing the trajectory of US-Pakistan relations is the question of military and economic aid. COAS Asim Munir’s visit likely included discussions on the potential changes in these aid levels, given the evolving security landscape in the region and the dynamics of the US-Pakistan relationship.

The suspension of military assistance and coalition support funding in 2018 by the US had significantly strained relations. During Munir’s visit, efforts would have been made to negotiate the reinstatement or modification of military aid, taking into account Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts and its strategic importance in the post-withdrawal Afghanistan scenario

From the US perspective, the aid levels would be linked to Pakistan’s commitment to regional stability, counterterrorism efforts, and cooperation in Afghanistan. The discussions may have addressed the conditions under which aid could be restored or increased, reflecting the shared interests and objectives of both nations.

On the economic front, discussions would have delved into potential avenues for financial assistance, trade, and investment. Economic aid can be a tool for fostering stability and development in Pakistan, aligning with broader US interests in the region. The two sides may have explored ways to enhance economic cooperation, creating a mutually beneficial framework.

COAS Munir’s visit could have resulted in an understanding or agreement on changes in aid levels, outlining a roadmap for future disbursements and allocations. Any positive developments in this regard would signify a willingness on both sides to overcome past challenges and work towards a more cooperative and constructive relationship.

Enhancement in Diplomatic Engagement

Diplomatic engagement is a cornerstone of international relations, and COAS Asim Munir’s visit to the USA would have aimed to enhance this critical aspect of the US-Pakistan relationship. Diplomacy plays a crucial role in managing complex issues, resolving disputes, and aligning interests between nations.

During the visit, diplomatic discussions would have covered a broad spectrum of issues, ranging from regional security concerns to economic cooperation and political stability. The aim would be to strengthen diplomatic ties, minimize misunderstandings, and foster an environment of trust and cooperation.

COAS Munir may have engaged with key decision-makers, including officials from the State Department, to reinforce Pakistan’s commitment to regional stability and its role in addressing shared challenges. The discussions may have also touched upon the broader South Asian geopolitical landscape and the implications for US-Pakistan relations.

Enhanced diplomatic engagement could manifest in the form of joint statements, shared policy objectives, and collaborative initiatives on global issues. The two nations may have explored avenues for cooperation in international forums, reflecting a convergence of interests on matters such as climate change, counterterrorism, and regional stability.

The outcomes of diplomatic discussions could impact not only bilateral relations but also contribute to shaping the narrative around Pakistan’s role in the international community. The ability to navigate diplomatic challenges and find common ground would be indicative of the resilience and maturity of the relationship.

In summary, an enhancement in diplomatic engagement resulting from COAS Munir’s visit would signify a positive step toward building a more robust and multifaceted partnership between the US and Pakistan. Effective diplomacy serves as a bridge, connecting nations and facilitating collaboration on shared goals and challenges.

Developments on Agreed Action Plans

One of the central objectives of COAS Asim Munir’s visit to the USA would have been to discuss and progress on agreed action plans, particularly in the realm of counterterrorism and regional stability. Action plans serve as the roadmap for addressing shared challenges and aligning the efforts of both nations.

Given the resurgence of TTP attacks and the evolving security situation in Afghanistan, COAS Munir’s discussions may have focused on reinforcing existing commitments and exploring new strategies to counter common threats. The aim would be to develop actionable plans that can be implemented in a coordinated manner.

The action plans may include specific measures related to intelligence-sharing, joint operations, and the capacity-building of security forces. COAS Munir and US counterparts would likely have explored avenues for collaborative efforts to address the root causes of extremism and terrorism, seeking a comprehensive and sustainable approach.

Progress on these action plans would be indicative of a shared commitment to regional stability and security. The two nations may have agreed on timelines, benchmarks, and monitoring mechanisms to ensure the effective implementation of the proposed measures.

Any developments on agreed action plans would carry implications for the broader security landscape in South Asia. Successful collaboration in countering terrorism and stabilizing the region would contribute to building confidence between the US and Pakistan and addressing concerns related to the spillover effects of instability.

Analyze Whether US Policy Changes Occurred

COAS Asim Munir’s visit to the USA would have provided a platform to analyze whether there were any significant changes in US policy toward Pakistan. The shifting dynamics in Afghanistan, the aftermath of the US withdrawal, and regional security concerns would have influenced the considerations of US policymakers.

Discussions during the visit would likely have centered on the recalibration of US policies to address emerging challenges and opportunities. Key areas of focus may have included counterterrorism cooperation, regional stability, and the role of Pakistan in the post-withdrawal Afghan scenario.

COAS Munir and his counterparts would have assessed whether the US intended to adopt a more collaborative approach, acknowledging Pakistan’s strategic importance in the region. Policy changes may have been reflected in nuanced statements, joint declarations, or adjustments to existing frameworks governing bilateral relations.

The US policy stance on economic aid, military cooperation, and diplomatic engagement with Pakistan would be critical indicators of any policy shifts. The visit may have provided an opportunity for both sides to align their expectations and set the tone for a more constructive and cooperative phase in their relationship.

If US policy changes were identified during the visit, it would signal a recognition of the evolving geopolitical realities and a willingness to adapt to the new dynamics in South Asia. Such adjustments could pave the way for a more resilient and mutually beneficial partnership between the US and Pakistan.

Examine if Pakistani Objectives Were Achieved

COAS Asim Munir’s visit to the USA would have been guided by specific objectives aimed at safeguarding Pakistan’s strategic interests, addressing security concerns, and navigating the complexities of regional geopolitics. Examining whether these objectives were achieved is crucial for assessing the success of the visit.

One of the primary objectives would have been to secure continued support from the US, both diplomatically and militarily. This would include discussions on the reinstatement or modification of military aid levels, economic cooperation, and assurances of diplomatic understanding in the wake of recent political changes in Pakistan.

Addressing concerns related to the resurgence of TTP attacks and potential spillover effects from Afghanistan would have been another key objective. COAS Munir may have sought commitments from the US to collaborate on counterterrorism efforts, intelligence-sharing, and joint operations to mitigate security threats.

Ensuring that the US recognizes Pakistan’s strategic importance in the region, particularly in the context of Afghanistan, would have been a central diplomatic objective. COAS Munir may have aimed to build understanding and trust, emphasizing Pakistan’s commitment to regional stability and its role in facilitating peace in Afghanistan.

The implications of the no-confidence movement and the cipher case on US-Pakistan relations may have prompted objectives related to dispelling any misconceptions or misunderstandings arising from domestic political developments. COAS Munir may have sought to convey a sense of stability and reliability in Pakistan’s foreign policy.

The achievement of these objectives would contribute to shaping a positive narrative around Pakistan’s role in the region and its relationship with the US. If successful, COAS Munir’s visit would be seen as a diplomatic triumph, solidifying Pakistan’s standing in the eyes of its international partners.

Highlights of the visit included:

Military Engagement: The discussions on military cooperation likely paved the way for follow-on visits, joint exercises, and intelligence-sharing initiatives. Both nations may have expressed a commitment to enhancing their military ties, recognizing the importance of coordinated efforts in addressing regional security challenges.

Economic and Military Aid: The visit may have yielded progress on changes in economic and military aid levels, signaling a willingness to overcome past challenges and foster a more constructive partnership. Commitments to support Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts and regional stability could have influenced decisions related to aid disbursements.

Diplomatic Engagement: COAS Munir’s interactions with key decision-makers in the US government likely contributed to enhanced diplomatic engagement. Joint statements and shared policy objectives may have laid the foundation for a more robust diplomatic relationship, fostering an environment of trust and cooperation.

Agreed Action Plans: Discussions on counterterrorism and regional stability likely resulted in the formulation of agreed action plans. These plans may include specific measures for intelligence-sharing, joint operations, and addressing the root causes of extremism. Progress in this area would signify a commitment to tackling shared challenges.

Policy Changes: Analysis of whether US policy changes occurred during the visit is critical for understanding the evolving dynamics of the US-Pakistan relationship. Any adjustments in policy, particularly in response to the post-withdrawal situation in Afghanistan, would shape the future trajectory of bilateral cooperation.

Pakistani Objectives: The success of the visit hinged on whether Pakistani objectives were achieved. This encompasses securing continued support from the US, addressing security concerns, and emphasizing Pakistan’s strategic importance in the region. Achieving these objectives would contribute to a positive narrative around Pakistan’s role in international affairs.

In summary, COAS Asim Munir’s visit was a multifaceted diplomatic mission with outcomes spanning military cooperation, economic and military aid, diplomatic engagement, agreed action plans, and potential policy changes. The visit set the stage for a recalibrated relationship, reflecting the shared interests and challenges faced by the US and Pakistan in the evolving landscape of South Asia.

Assessment of Impact on Pakistan-US Ties

The impact of COAS Asim Munir’s visit on Pakistan-US ties is a nuanced evaluation that considers the broader context of regional dynamics, shared interests, and the effectiveness of diplomatic efforts. Assessing the impact involves examining the tangible outcomes of the visit and their implications for the bilateral relationship.

Positive Developments: If the visit resulted in follow-on engagements, increased military and economic aid, and enhanced diplomatic understanding, it would signify positive developments. Joint initiatives, collaborative action plans, and strengthened military ties would contribute to a more resilient and cooperative partnership.

Counterterrorism Cooperation: The impact on counterterrorism cooperation is particularly significant. If there are tangible outcomes related to joint operations, intelligence-sharing, and addressing the resurgence of TTP attacks, it would demonstrate a shared commitment to regional stability and security.

Policy Alignment: An impact assessment would consider whether there were any noticeable shifts in US policy towards Pakistan. If the visit contributed to a more aligned approach, especially in the context of post-withdrawal Afghanistan, it would mark a positive turn in the relationship.

Diplomatic Resilience: The impact on diplomatic ties would be reflected in the resilience of the relationship in the face of political changes and domestic challenges in Pakistan. If diplomatic engagements resulted in joint statements and shared policy objectives, it would indicate a commitment to long-term cooperation.

Public Perception: Assessing the impact on public perception is crucial. The success of the visit in shaping a positive narrative around Pakistan’s role in the region and its relationship with the US would influence how the general public perceives the nation’s standing on the international stage.

Strategic Importance: An evaluation of the impact should consider whether the visit reinforced the recognition of Pakistan’s strategic importance in the region. If the discussions emphasized Pakistan’s role in facilitating peace in Afghanistan and addressing regional security challenges, it would bolster the nation’s standing.

Implications for the Future of the Relationship

The implications of COAS Asim Munir’s visit for the future of the Pakistan-US relationship are contingent on the outcomes achieved and the enduring challenges that persist. Analyzing these implications involves forecasting how the relationship may evolve based on the diplomatic, military, and strategic foundations laid during the visit.

Strengthened Bilateral Ties: Positive outcomes, such as enhanced military cooperation, increased aid levels, and diplomatic understanding, would likely contribute to strengthened bilateral ties. A more cooperative and resilient relationship could emerge, with both nations aligning their efforts to address shared challenges.

Editor Timesglo
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