BEIJING (TIP): General Khalid Shameem Wynne, chairman of Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC), met Chinese vicepremier Zhang Gaoli in Beijing on Aug 29. The meeting came just days before Pakistan is expected to make two important appointments in its armed forces: the next army chief and JCSC chairman. Wynne, one of the top two military officers of Pakistan, is believed to have consulted Beijing on the new appointments and assured it of Pakistan’s continued friendship.
China is particularly worried about the upcoming retirement of Ashraf Parvez Kayani, the Pakistan Army chief, who is seen as having ensured that Taliban militants do not spill over the border into its restive Xinjiang province. Wynne is due to retire on October 6 and Kayani on November 28. Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said he will not give an extension to Kayani and will choose the next army chief on the basis of merit. The Wynne-Zhang meeting also came days before Chinese and Pakistani air forces begin a joint drill (from September 2 to 22) in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The drill, codenamed ‘Shaheen-2’, comes after the first joint drill in Pakistan in March 2011. “Maintaining and deepening strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and is also the common aspiration of the two peoples,” a Chinese government spokesman said