Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in the Maldives on Friday for a three-day official visit on the invitation of his Maldivian counterpart.
Bajwa will meet with Defence Minister Adam Shareef Umar and other officials during his first visit to the country since taking up the top military post in November 2016, according to the Maldives National Defence Force.
The Pakistan chief of army staff is the highest-ranking foreign dignitary to visit the country since a widely criticised state of emergency was lifted after 45 days.
The rare trip comes amid frayed India-Maldives ties after public disputes over the exercise of emergency powers, prompting speculation in Indian media that it is a “political signal” from the regional rival.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the Maldives for Independence Day celebrations last year, during which an agreement was signed to develop a medical college with Pakistan’s assistance.
Contrary to remarks by the Maldives defence minister following a visit to Pakistan in early 2016, a US$10 million credit line facility to buy military aircraft was not among six agreements signed during the prime minister’s visit.
Bajwa was greeted at the airport by MNDF Chief of Defence Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam and the Pakistani ambassador to the Maldives.