Military Times quotes South Asia Center Director Shuja Nawaz on the upcoming visit of Pakistan’s army chief of staff to the United States:
Sharif will be the first Pakistani army chief of staff to visit the U.S. since October 2010, said Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, D.C. U.S.-Pakistani relations hit a low point the following year when Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan.
“This is a rebuilding of the relationship from the depths it fell into in 2011 and 2012,” Nawaz told Military Times on Tuesday.
Foremost on Sharif’s mind will be the future of Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S. after 2016, when the U.S. is expected to remove almost all its troops from Afghanistan, Nawaz said. The U.S. currently reimburses the Pakistani military for its counterterrorism operations. Since launching an offensive against the Pakistan Taliban in North Waziristan this summer, the Pakistani military has increased troop strength on the border with Afghanistan from 150,000 to 170,000.
“Along with this closure of the battle in Afghanistan, the coalition support funds will also dry up, so there will need to be the crafting of a new system to provide any support, and he will have to make a case — not just with his military counterparts, but with people in the [Obama] administration and on [Capitol] Hill — because there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of enthusiasm on the Hill for continuing that relationship,” Nawaz said.