US CENTOM commander calls on General Bajwa

RAWALPINDI: A delegation led by the incoming commander of the United States Central Command (US CENTCOM) called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the ISPR said.

General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. took over as head of the US CENTCOM last month after Gen. Joseph Votel’s retirement.

According to a press statement from the military’s media wing, the two top commanders discussed the geo-strategic environment and regional security.

The discussion included Afghanistan and the recent standoff between the Pakistani and Indian militaries.

The meeting comes as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the country had “reliable intelligence” that India was preparing for yet another act of aggression against Pakistan.

“A [fresh] act of aggression by India against Pakistan is likely between April 16 and 20. According to the reliable intelligence we have right now, a new Pulwama-like incident can be [planned] by India to increase diplomatic pressure on Pakistan and to justify military action against Pakistan,” he said earlier.

“After consultation with Prime Minister Imran Khan, we have decided to share this information with the people of Pakistan as well as the international community immediately. It is our policy to keep the nation informed,” the minister added.

“Fear of war has not yet dissipated,” Qureshi said, as he called on the United Nations and the international community to play their role in maintaining peace and stability in the region.

“Pakistan has apprised all five permanent member states of the United Nations Security Council [China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States] of India’s attempts to disrupt peace,” he shared.

“The international community must take notice of India’s irresponsible behaviour. The world must not stay silent, or peace and stability in South Asia could suffer.”

Tensions soared between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the February 14 attack in Pulwama, occupied Kashmir.

India piled the blame for the Pulwama bombing on Pakistan without presenting any proof. The allegations were strongly refuted by Pakistan.

In response, India said it carried out on February 26 air strikes on what it called a militant training camp at Balakot inside Pakistan.

The Indian government was quick to take credit for a “successful” airstrike and put the death toll to over 300. Pakistani officials, as well as the locals, rejected the claims, inviting local and international media to visit the site of the so-called attack where around a dozen trees were the only “casualty”.

The Pakistan Air Force, in retaliatory action, downed two Indian aircraft the next day, capturing Indian Wing Commander Abhinandan who was later released as a peace gesture by Pakistan.