ISLAMABAD — Pakistan Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani will visit Russia later this month on the invitation of his Russian counterpart.
In a brief chat with newsmen at Defence Day show at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, Gen. Kayani said dates for the visit are being firmed up.
This would be the first visit by a Pakistan Army chief to Russia. It precedes trip to Pakistan by Russian President Vladimir Putin in early October for a regional conference also being attended by leaders of Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan.
Putin was invited by President Asif Ali Zardari during his visit to Moscow last month and is scheduled to arrive on October 2. Both countries are trying to improve ties after long years of indifferent relationship. They have a limited cooperation in defence field and Gen. Kayani’s visit is intended to augment it.
Gen. Kayani said that winter exercises of the army would take place on the usual scale. About the country’s nuclear assets, the army chief said that none should worry about their security as these are fully safe. He added that the nuclear programme would be protected by all means.
He parried a number of queries regarding operation in North Waziristan at US prompting.
Talking informally on this occasion, ISI chief Lt-Gen. Zahirul Islam said no proposal is under consideration to swap Pakistani doctor Aafia Siddiqui serving jail term in the US with Dr Shakeel Afridi who helped the CIA to locate Osama bin Laden.