The United States has offered to restore $800 million in military aid to Pakistan if it reverses its decision of expelling US military trainers in the aftermath of the May 2 Abbottabad raid that had killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
The offer came from an influential US Democrat, Senator Carl Levin, at a meeting with Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Tuesday, a Pakistani official familiar with the development told The Express Tribune.
Leading a delegation of US congressmen, Senator Levin – who is the chairman of Senate’s Arms Services Committee – also held separate meetings with President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said Gen Kayani refused to review the decision anytime soon.
Pakistan Army expelled close to 100 US military trainers from the country in June in a show of displeasure over the Bin Laden raid. The Pakistani move, the US said, compelled it to withhold $800 million in military assistance.
At a meeting with the US delegation, President Zardari voiced concern over reports of the proposed cut in assistance for Pakistan. “Any cut in assistance would impact our existing economic conditions,” said an official statement quoting the president as telling the visiting US senators.
Zardari said the move would also send negative signals to the public about the US commitment to the people of Pakistan “when they are suffering heavily in economic terms due to unparalleled toll of the war against terror.”
The president hoped that all such steps would be avoided, the statement added.
President Zardari said drag on our relations due to operational irritants can effectively be avoided if the terms of engagements were clearly defined and followed in their true essence by the two countries.
In a meeting with Prime Minister Gilani, Senator Levin underlined the importance of bringing back US-Pakistan relations on even keel because both the countries are fighting the common enemy who is ‘using violence as IEDs.’
According to an official handout, Premier Gilani expressed reservations over the failure of the US-led Nato troops to stop infiltration of militants at the Pak-Afghan border.
“One wonders how terrorists dare go to Afghanistan without being eliminated by the Isaf and Nato Forces which are equipped with the most advanced weapons,” Gilani asked.
He underscored the importance of relations between the US and Pakistan to go beyond terrorism and cover other areas of bilateral relations on durable basis for the benefit of people of both countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2011.