Gen Kayani Refuses To Meet US Assistant Defence Secretary Peter Lavoy

In a powerful signal of the extent to which bilateral ties have plummeted in recent times, the office of the Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has politely turned down a request for a meeting by visiting US assistant defence secretary, Peter Lavoy.

“Yes, it is correct that a meeting was requested but the General Headquarters declined. We are not aware if Peter Lavoy was given any reasons,” Pakistani officials told The News. US officials in Washington also confirmed the same.

“There are several reasons for turning down Lavoy. It is to tell the Americans that you cannot be bad-mouthing us day in and day out and then expect a meeting with Pakistan’s most powerful personality. You cannot trash our sovereignty, threaten us, announce intensified drone attacks, kill our soldiers, refuse to apologise when you do the same in Kabul, hold back our money (CSF), threaten to cut off all aid and then pretend that it is business as usual,” is how one official put it.

The News spoke to officials involved in working out the ‘package deal’ with the US and it appears that there are clear instructions that more important than the pricing of the Nato containers is the US apology. “We would be willing to forgo charges in return for assurances on our sovereignty and offer of an apology. It means more than the money, we are more concerned about our dignity and honour. If we get assurances that our sovereignty will not be violated and our dignity will be respected, we will not bother about the money part. Price of containers is not an important issue,” said one official.

He said that Lavoy has been told that without an apology it would not be possible to move forward on opening up the Ground Lines of Communications, (GLOCs). “One cannot predict the outcome of our discussions. The process remains unpredictable. The apology remains the key to preserve our dignity. In the absence of same it has been difficult to move forward,” the official added.

Sources in Washington and Islamabad say that for the time being efforts are underway to ensure that an acceptable apology is delivered one way or the other to Pakistan. “There appears to be a slim chance that an acceptable apology will surface. Neither side is ready to accept the language the interlocutors are working on and time is running out. GHQ has to understand that a ready apology was pushed aside and now too many issues have overtaken the apology. US aid is being threatened to be completely cut off because of Shakeel Afridi’s arrest. One side has to step back and it appears no one is ready to do so,’ explained one diplomat.

The News also learnt Sunday that the establishment is also demanding nothing less than a US apology for the Salala killings and says that the ‘apology’ and not the ‘pricing’ of Nato containers is imperative for Pakistan. “No apology, no package deal,” is the message being sent to Lavoy.

Lavoy is still in town and Sunday evening was to be spent at the US embassy for informal discussions. The government is withholding commenting on the meetings that Lavoy has held so far, except an important one with finance minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh on Saturday.Not too long ago, Pakistan also asked US ambassador for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman not to come to Pakistan.

Kayani’s office has been quite generous in the past in accomodating visiting dignitaries, especially Americans. In fact there had been criticism that protocol has not been strictly followed and officials of lower ranks also found their way into the COAS’ office.

Less than twenty four hours ago Lavoy’s boss defense secretary Leon Panetta accused Pakistan’s military of giving safe havens to Afghan ‘terrorists’, threatened that the US would, if necessary, take action inside North Waziristan to take out the Haqqani network and publicly declared that the US was at war in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). “Without getting into the details of what we may or may not do, I think it suffices to say that the United States will do whatever it has to do to protect its forces,” threatened Panetta in a television interview.

As US rhetoric reaches a new high, it is understandable why Lavoy could not partake of a cup of coffee with Kayani.Meanwhile, the Pakistan military’s insistence that the US should apologise for intruding into Pakistan’s airspace on November 26, 2011 and killing and wounding its soldiers, is once again on the top of the agenda of all bilateral discussions.

However, there also appears to be some confusion about how ‘vital’ this US apology has become. For months now, the focus of deliberations has centered around a package deal which included fixing an agreed price for each Nato container passing through Pakistan, Coalition Support Funds payment to Pakistan, iron-clad guarantees that Salala-like attacks will not repeated, all agreements would be put on paper and a US apology would be delivered.

The US apology was not being highlighted until recently when foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, in an interview in Doha to Foreign Policy magazine, challenged the Obama administration to live up to America’s democratic ideals by respecting the will of Pakistan’s elected legislature. “A representative Parliament of 180 million people has spoken on one subject. [This is] something which should have been forthcoming the day this incident happened, and what a partnership not only demands, but requires,” she said.

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Pakistan Has No Aggressive Design Against Anyone: Gen Kayani

Rawalpindi: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Friday said that Pakistan is a peace loving nation and focus of its armed forces always remained on defending and serving the country.

“We are a peace loving nation and harbor no aggression towards anyone but at the same time we value our freedom and independence more than anything else.”

He made these remarks while addressing participants of launching ceremony of book on Major Shabir Sharif Shaheed’s heroic life as military officer, held at General Headquarters (GHQs) here.

The COAS said that armed forces are fully prepared to ensure sovereignty and dignity of the country.

Appreciating the role and sacrifices of young officers of Pakistan Army during the war against terrorism, he said, “The young officers have setexamples for us and we should acknowledge the dedication of our brave soldiers who are taking pride by laying their lives for the nation.”

He said the ratio of martyred officers and soldiers is 1-10 which reflects their resolve and commitment.

General Kayani also paid tribute to Major Shabir Sharif Shaheed (Nishan-e-Haider) and termed him one of the most courageous military officers and symbol of bravery and valour for the new generation.

He also appreciated the writer who highlighted several aspect of life and role of Major Shabir Sharif Shaheed (NH).

He said Colonel Azam Qadri (Retd) has made the epic life of the legendary solider more memorable than ever through his remarkable effort of collecting and compiling the shining moments of Major Shabir’s career.

Speaking on the occasion, other speakers also paid tribute to Major Shabir Sharif Shaheed and threw light on his achievement.

The book “What more can a solider desire” is a candid account of Major Shabir’s acts of valour and bravery he displayed throughout his military career and during the two Pakistan-India wars of 1965 and 1971.

Major Shabir embraced Shahadat on December 6, 1971 while firing and engaging the Indian tanks in the Sulemanki Sector.

Portion of the book is based upon the letters that Major Shabir wrote to the author, which contain and enumerate not only some historic facts about the Pakistan-India war of 1965, but also present a good reflection of his day-to-day life, as well as his personality.

The book not only galvanizes the desire of achievement, but also portrays the parts of Major Shabir Sharif’s life in a novel and impressive way.

Watch Complete 2012 Youm-e-Shuhada Ceremony Held at GHQ

3rd Youm-e-Shuhada (Day of Martyrs) was observed with perseverance and solemnity at all Garrisons of the country on April 30, 2012.

The day was marked to commemorate the sacrifices of Pakistan Army, while protecting the motherland against internal and external threats.
Wreath laying ceremonies were held at Yadgar-e-Shuhada’s to pay homage to supreme sacrifices rendered by sons of the soil.

Main ceremony of Yaum-e-Shuhada was held at GHQ. Yaum-e-Shuhada ceremony was witnessed by a large number of families of Shuhada, parliamentarians, services chiefs, diplomats and people from all walks of life including the media.

ISPR – Update Avalanche Clearance at Gayari Sector, Siachen

Army has employed all possible efforts/manpower for rescue activities at Gayari Sector since last one month inspite of harsh weather conditions. The excavators work at seven sites in is progress with full pace and restoration of water channel is also underway round the clock.

A nonstop, deliberate and methodical Rescue Operation, supported by all available resources is under wayArmy has employed all possible efforts/manpower for rescue activities at Gayari Sector since last one month inspite of harsh weather conditions.

The excavators work at seven sites in is progress with full pace and restoration of water channel is also underway round the clock. A nonstop, deliberate and methodical Rescue Operation, supported by all available resources is under way

Gen Kayani Visits Gujranwala Corps HQ

Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited Headquarters of Gujranwala Corps on Friday. COAS was briefed about the progress of IT infrastructure and capability development, in the backdrop of Pakistan Army’s drive towards computerization and IT based management. 

Later, COAS visited a unit to witness the user end deployment of the system. COAS appreciated the progress made and emphasized that, to allow optimum utilization of the new system, training of users must remain the prime focus of commanders. Earlier, on arrival, COAS was received by Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif, Commander Gujranwala Corps.

General Kayani Sends Message to India from Siachen

Gayari (Siachen): Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s reiteration on Thursday for more confidence building measures (CBMs) between Pakistan and India seemed more intended for Indian ears than the former.

In a way, Kayani’s third visit to Gayari where 139 men of the 6th Northern Light Infantry were buried alive in an avalanche on April 7 indicated a CBM of sorts. It was the first time that an Indian journalist Aneeta Joshua of daily The Hindu, was taken to a forward position that is a mere 3.5 miles away from combat posts at Siachen. She was barred from visiting even the twin city of Rawalpindi in the last two years since she had been posted in Islamabad. In the changing circumstances, Aneeta was allowed to travel the entire breadth of Gilgit-Baltistan that her country disputes as part of Pakistan.

Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani during his visit to Gayari on Thursday with father of Major Zaka, who came under avalanche on 7 April 2012, talking to journalists.

The COAS chose the occasion to also reiterate his call for demilitarisation of Siachen. In Pakistan, he said in response to a question, the idea got across-the-board support. ìIt has been received positively in India also except with some ifs and buts. That is understandable because there have to be CBMs between the two countries and then we have to move forward. Let’s hope we can move forward.

He referred to a peaceful resolution of the issue for the third time in a month but pointed out that there had been a regression in the talks after India shifted its goalpost. He said the two countries were close to a resolution in 1989 by agreeing to authenticate [ground positions] in the northern most point of the LoC (technically known as NJ 9842). However, India has changed phraseology by asking for demarcation of the Line of Control (LoC) at the last defence secretary-level talks on Siachen.

He re-emphasised that he was all for a peaceful resolution but short of that we will do what we are supposed to do — fighting, that is. The presence of Aneeta Joshua, it seemed, was to convey the message to her one billion countrymen back home.

She may be the only Indian to see this picturesque part of Pakistan that boasts four out of the top 10 highest peaks in the world, not to mention the theatre of war from behind the enemy lines. Wearing the specialised white gear worn by soldiers in this oxygen-deficient environment, where more people die of frostbite than combat, her inquisitiveness was palpable. She asked a Pakistani colleague if she could take a few photographs. Well, you have not been stopped.

She was not even stopped from sitting with her Pakistani counterparts in the official meeting that had the cream of Pakistan Army. The COAS himself opened up the discussion describing the harsh circumstances in which soldiers had to operate. He said he could not help sharing his thoughts as he had served as the GOC and then corp commander in-charge of that area.

The local commander could not resist saying that the confidential briefing was meant for the chief and he did not expect journalists (let alone an Indian one) to be there. It turned out to be a good presentation but was hardly the material that one cannot Google.

It was an awkward situation for the troops if not shocking to find an enemy within their midst. An army officer almost fell in disbelief when he realised in the middle of a conversation about the combat situation that one of his audiences was an Indian. A soldier was asked if he had seen an Indian before. ìNot on our side of the border, he responded frankly while staring at Aneeta as if she was a different specie.

Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas, when asked about this, dismissed the linkage between Aneeta’s presence and the chief’s statement on India as far-fetched. He said the focus of the visit was to bring the father of Major Zaka, who lay buried in the rubble, to see the effort by the army to recover the bodies. Aneeta’s visit is part of Armyís campaign to open up,î he said while pointing out that the Pakistan Army had already taken Indian journalists to trouble spots like Chakoti in Azad Kashmir and Swat. May be we are more confident than the Indians about our case.”

India Has Hardened Its Stand On Siachen Says COAS Gen Kayani

Skardu: Pakistan’s powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani contended that India had hardened its position on the Siachen issue, especially compared to the situation in 1989, when the two sides were “close to a resolution”.

Speaking to the media during a visit to a high-altitude army camp in Siachen sector that was hit by an avalanche on April 7, Kayani indicated that India had toughened its stance on the issue and there had been “some kind of regression”.

He reiterated that there should be “a peaceful resolution of the issue”.

“We were close to a resolution in 1989 when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi came to Pakistan. It didn’t materialise. I don’t want to go into technicalities. There have been several meetings,” Kayani said.

“At the last Defence Secretary-level meeting, there was some kind of regression. Because the term used earlier was authentication but in the last meeting, the Indian side said they want demarcation of the LoC ( Line of Control),” he added.

“Having said this, we still have to talk. There is nothing like a peaceful resolution. The best thing is a peaceful resolution but short of that, we will do what we are supposed to do,” the army chief said while responding to questions.

“It takes two hands to clap,” he added. Asked about the Indian response to his comments last month about the demilitarisation of Siachen, Kayani said his remarks were “received positively except for some ifs and buts, but that is understandable because there have to be CBMs between the two countries and then we have to move forward. Let’s hope we can move forward.”

In Pakistan, he said, there was support “across the board” for what he had said.