The US military confirmed on Friday that it had reduced the number of its personnel in Pakistan following a request from the government.
However, the statement issued by the US embassy did not give details regarding the number of military officials pulled out of the country.
“We recently received a written request from the government of Pakistan to reduce the number of US military personnel here and we have nearly completed that reduction,” said Vice Admiral Michael LeFever, US defence representative in Pakistan.
On May 25, the Pentagon had confirmed that Pakistan had notified the US in writing to cut its troops in the country and that troop reductions had begun. Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan did not disclose the number of trainers currently in Pakistan but said the entire military mission comes to between 200 and 300 people while other Pakistani and US military sources in Pakistan said the component numbered around 120.
LeFever’s statement comes a day after Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani told a corps commanders meeting that military ties with the US had been reassessed in view of the joint parliamentary resolution passed last month following the Abbottabad incident. Parliament has called for a review of anti-terror cooperation with the US following the midnight unilateral raid by US Navy SEALs to kill Osama bin Laden last month in his compound in the garrison city of Abbottabad.
CIA chief in Pakistan
The head of CIA began a crucial visit to Pakistan on Friday as part of intense efforts from the two sides to revive the intelligence cooperation.
This is Leon Panetta’s first trip to Islamabad since the Abbottabad raid.
Official sources confirmed that Panetta had one-on-one meeting with Gen Kayani to discuss issues concerning the intelligence cooperation between the CIA and ISI.
A security official, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Express Tribune that the intelligence cooperation, which had been affected due to a series of incidents in recent months, have been put back on track.
The killing of senior al-Qaeda operative Ilyas Kashmiri in South Waziristan Agency recently in a US drone attack was the result of joint cooperation between the CIA and ISI.
Pakistani intelligence officials say they provided the tip off about the whereabouts of Kashmiri.
Leon Panetta, who would be the next US defense secretary, is also due to meet his Pakistani counterpart Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha.
The spy chiefs are expected to finalize details of the proposed ‘joint intelligence team’ to hunt down ‘high profile targets’ in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2011.