ISLAMABAD: United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a phone call with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, a brief statement issued in Washington announced on Tuesday night.
The US statement did not share details of the conversation between the two officials, though their exchange comes at a time when both countries are trying to rebuild relations that came under strain during the government of former prime minister Imran Khan.
The ex-premier accused the administration in Washington of orchestrating his downfall in a no-trust vote since he was trying to pursue an independent foreign policy. The US official have, however, repeatedly denied the claim.
“Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke by phone today with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Asim Munir,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a brief statement. “Secretary Austin and Gen. Munir discussed areas of mutual interest as well as recent regional developments.”
Pakistan army media wing, ISPR, is yet to issue a statement about the phone call.
However, the caretaker administration gave a deadline to all illegal immigrants, mostly Afghan nationals, to leave the country by the end of the month.
The decision was announced after two militant attacks on a mosque and a religious procession left more than 60 people dead in the country’s western provinces bordering Afghanistan.
Officials in Islamabad have frequently blamed the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), whose leadership is said to be based in the neighboring state, for launching such attacks.
The country’s caretaker interior minister Sarfaraz Bugti also blamed Afghan nationals for their involvement in several militant attacks during a media briefing.
“From January till now, there have been 24 suicide bombings [in Pakistan],” he said. “Of those 24, 14 suicide bombings were carried out by Afghan nationals. They were Afghans who attacked us.