The US has reduced its military presence in Pakistan after Pakistan’s military establishment decided “there is no need for unnecessary presence of its troops,” according to a senior military official.
US military personnel have been training the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary force in Warsak, Peshawar, Tarbela and Shahbaz Airbase.
“We are in the process of complying with the directions of the General Headquarters (GHQ) that the number of US military personnel training Pakistani soldiers at various stations be reduced,” a US military spokesperson in Islamabad confirmed.
According to a top Pakistani military official, as many as 160 US soldiers had left Pakistan after the Abbottabad operation. However, he did not confirm the number stated by Pakistani officials, saying, “Over 200 US military personnel are still working here.”
Pakistan had formally asked the Pentagon to recall its men soon after the killing of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in unilateral American raid in the garrison city of Abbottabad.
The strong stance comes in the aftermath of a resolution passed during a joint session of parliament, which focused on revisiting the country’s policy regarding the war on terror, officials said.
A senior official revealed that the GHQ has written to Colonel Michael Shavers, a senior US official in Islamabad, asking for further reduction in the number of soldiers engaged with Pakistan Air Force (PAF) at various airbases.
Almost four dozen Americans soldiers working at various training stations will be leaving Pakistan by the end of this month, the official said.
According to army officials, the troops that have already left Pakistan include 25 US engineers who were imparting F-16 training to PAF pilots at the Shahbaz Airbase.
The US troops, they said, had accompanied the new fighter jets that the US had provided to Pakistan for training young Pakistani pilots last year. However, they added, no American pilot is stationed at Shahbaz Airbase right now.
Meanwhile, US officials in Islamabad stated that they were in regular contact with Pakistan’s military leadership to enhance cooperation between the two forces rather than simply withdrawing its top officers from Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2011.