Pakistan’s cabinet has discreetly approved the signing of new security pacts with the United States. The move comes after years of estranged relations between the two over the Afghanistan issue. This marks a fresh start in military bilateral relations between the two countries and may open new channels for Islamabad to acquire military equipment from Washington.
Renewal of Ties
The Express Tribune reported on Thursday that Pakistan’s cabinet approved the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CIS-MOA) with the US. However, there is no official announcement from either side. It has come to notice that the Federal Minister of Information Marriyum Aurangzeb was approached to speak about the agreement but refused to comment.
The developments in Pakistan-America bilateral relations come after the recent meeting between US Central Command (Centcom) chief General Michael Erik Kurilla and Pakistan`s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir. As an outcome of the meeting, both countries agreed to further enhance their bilateral and military relations.
What is CIS-MOA?
The Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement, commonly known as CIS-MOA, is a foundational agreement that the US generally signs with its allies or with countries that hold its military interests. Moreover, it conveniently provides legal cover to the US Department of Defense to ensure the sale of military equipment to other countries.
The signing of CIS-MOA implies the willingness of the two countries to maintain institutional mechanisms. As a result of this agreement, the US might supply military hardware and equipment to Pakistan.
The first agreement was signed between the Joint Staff Headquarters of Pakistan and the US Department of Defense in 2005 for 15 years. It expired in 2020 and it has now been renewed. This exercise includes routine joint military activities, training, operations, and supply of equipment.
A retired senior Pakistani military officer, who previously dealt with American affairs, stated that it is not easy to procure military goods from the US despite there being agreements. Such a statement owes to growing strategic partnerships between the US and India.
He further said that the long-term interests of Islamabad do not align with Washington but agreed that Washington needs Islamabad in some critical regions. Such an agreement conveniently serves the purpose of both.
History of US-Pakistan Relations
Previously, Pakistan was a major recipient of American military and security assistance. But with détente approaching and China threatening US supremacy, things changed, and the US chose to seek closer cooperative ties with India. Meanwhile, the significance of Pakistan started to deteriorate in the eyes of the US.
The downfall of US-Pakistan ties started due to differences over the Afghanistan issue. The relations worsened when former al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden was killed by the US Navy near the city of Abbottabad, close to a military school in Pakistan in 2011.
The US attacked a Pakistani military outpost on the Afghan Border in the same year, killing around 24 Pakistani soldiers. As a result, Pakistan blocked all roads used by the allied forces to supply essential goods to Afghanistan.
Multiple efforts have been initiated to improve relations, but the shadows of the Afghanistan affair could not be ignored. However, things seem to be taking a positive route between the US and Pakistan, especially since the recent take-over of the Shabaz Sharif government in April last year.