‘Concerns about Indian military build-up shared with US’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has shared its concerns about the military build-up of India with the United States at the last Defence Consultative Group (DCG), Defence Secretary Lt Gen (r) Asif Yaseen told a Senate panel here on Thursday.
Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Defence – chaired by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed – about details of Defence Consultative Group meetings between the US and Pakistan, Asif said, “We have sensitised the Americans about the military build-up of the India...”
He pointed out that the one-time increase made in the Indian defence budget is even higher than the total spending of Pakistan on defence front. He also discussed the keenness of India in Afghanistan with US officials especially after the withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan this year.
The secretary also talked extensively about the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan and the post-withdrawal scenario which was took up with the US in the DCG meetings.
About the equipment and arsenal of US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan after the troop withdrawal, he rejected the notion that the US would throw out it and pointed out that it is premature at this stage because the US has not drawn out its plans about level of its presence after withdrawal of its forces, which would be largest since the World War II.
About its utility for Pakistan, he noted that “first we would have to identify whether we need it or not because first it would have to be checked whether it sits in our level of arsenal or not”.
“It should not be seen by just getting the arsenal and equipment because we didn’t buy it so the question of their maintenance would arise,” he said.
Asked about any discussion with US officials about the presence of foreign elements in the country, Asif asserted, “We should better ask it ourselves as it is our responsibility to deny soft borders to such elements. We should first put our own house in order.”
The secretary also touched upon the issue of NATO supplies and its blockade by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, and said that it was a political issue. However, he maintained that these supplies were allowed under an MoU as part of Pakistan’s commitment with NATO rather than the US only.
He told the committee that the Pakistani side in DCG meetings emphasised that Pak-US relations should not be seen in the context of Afghanistan and terrorism only.
“Bilateral relations have been seen through the prism of these two issues,” he said and added that rather these should be part of broader strategic and economic relations.
Asif also said that the security situation in Afghanistan was discussed in detail and it was conveyed to US officials that instability in Afghanistan would have serious consequences for Pakistan in form of influx of more refugees.
About the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), the secretary said that there were some procedural issues in reimbursement of these funds.
Mushahid Hussain said that Pak-US relations are now entering a new phase. However, he deplored that the mindset on part of the US appears to have not changed and referred to condition of release of Dr Shakeek Afridi with aid to Pakistan, which be believed is a “condemnable act”.

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