WASHINGTON: The United States has sent two liaison officials back into Peshawar in a sign the two nations may be able to achieve some low-level military cooperation despite a string of confrontations that have left Washington’s relations with Islamabad in crisis.
Pentagon spokesperson Captain John F Kirby said that there are no military trainers in Pakistan, but said liaison officers did travel to Peshawar recently to meet with the Pakistan military on matters of border coordination.
The Pentagon spokesperson said that a couple of liaison officers had travelled earlier from the Regional Command East headquarters in Afghanistan to meet with their counterparts in Peshawar, adding that the two liaison officers would be working with the 11th Corps HQ of the Pakistan military.
Talking to The Express Tribune, DoD spokesperson William Speaks said that the two liaison officers would be stationed in Peshawar, adding that this was the first time the liaison officers would be returning to Peshawar after the Salala airstrike in November last year.
“Tactical and operational co-operation is getting better,” said the Pentagon spokesperson, and cited the recent visit as an example of that.
Earlier reports had claimed that the US sent a handful of military trainers back into Pakistan in a sign the two nations may be able to achieve some low-level cooperation against militants.
Kirby added that the US does not have an agreement right now with Pakistan to send trainers. “The small number of trainers that were there earlier was at Pakistan’s request.”
The reports were also denied by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
According to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesperson, the report released by foreign media is “incorrect”.
“It is not true. American trainers have not returned to Pakistan,” a senior Pakistani military official told Reuters.
The number of American military instructors in Pakistan dropped to zero after an attack on the Salala check post killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November last years.
In the past, there had been some 200 to 300 US military personnel stationed in Pakistan, many of them training Pakistan special forces to confront militants. (WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT IN ISLAMABAD AND REUTERS)
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2012.