NATO strengthens military-to-military cooperation with Pakistan
On 28 and 29 May 2013, General Knud Bartels, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, made an official visit to Pakistan at the invitation of General Kayani, the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff.
The aim of the visit was to build on the military-to-military relationship between NATO and Pakistan both in recognition of Pakistan’s important role in the region and as enabler to NATO’s Mission in Afghanistan. “It is important for NATO to understand Pakistan’s perspective and views of the dynamics in the region,” General Bartels said. “Pakistan is clearly an important country in the region within which the future stability of Afghanistan will be a key factor. I believe it makes good sense for NATO to strengthen military-to-military cooperation with Pakistan,” he added. To this end, General Bartels held talks with General Kayani, received briefings from the Pakistani Army Principal Staff Officers and had a meeting with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Wynne.
In his meeting with General Kayani, General Bartels discussed the key challenges facing the security of the country, with stability in Afghanistan currently being foremost amongst these. “General Kayani and I shared the view that fair, secure and inclusive elections in Afghanistan next year are pivotal and therefore stability in Afghanistan especially in the coming 18 months up to the elections are a common concern,” he said.
In the operational briefings with the Army Principal Staff Officers, he also had the opportunity to acknowledge the level of activity and commitment of the Pakistani Army to fighting terrorism in their country. The NATO and Pakistan delegations exchanged views on countering the IED threat to troops and civilian populations, a threat which both parties are facing. The delegations agreed to explore opportunities to sharing knowledge and experience on countering the IED threat. The importance of close cooperation on border security between Pakistan and Afghanistan and NATO's current role in facilitating this through ISAF was also discussed.
During the visit, General Bartels paid tribute to the soldiers of the Pakistani Military who lost their lives in service for their country with a formal Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Shuhada Monument. He also delivered a lecture to the Students and Staff of the National Defence University to improve the general understanding of NATO, its roles, operations and future challenges. “I found the audience keen to understand more about NATO, its operations and outreach," General Bartels said afterwards.
The trip concluded by an operational visit to the Swat valley in northern Pakistan where the General was briefed on the Pakistani Army' s comprehensive work to restore security, stability and prosperity following the military defeat of the insurgents in this region. Also in the area the General visited a De-radicalization center where he praised the staff for their remarkable work in providing young people hope, skills and the desire to contribute constructively in society. "I have been grateful for the hospitality I have experienced and I will continue to support efforts to enhance military-to-military cooperation between NATO and Pakistan,” Gen. Bartels concluded.