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No decision on cutting US military trainers in Pakistan

April 13, 2011 - Islamabad

No decisions have been made on cutting down the number of American military trainers in Pakistan as yet, but Washington is in discussions with Islamabad on this issue, a US military spokesperson has confirmed.

Pakistan has demanded that the US sharply reduce the number of Central Intelligence Agency operatives and Special Operations forces working on its soil, and that it suspend the CIA drone campaign aimed at militants in the country's tribal region, The New York Times reports.

"The article (NYT report) presents a reduction as already decided on, but the fact is that we continue to discuss the amount and disposition of US trainers in Pakistan," The News quoted a US military spokesperson, as saying.

"It is also true that throughout the period, we've been doing training at the request of the Government of Pakistan, we've continuously discussed the number and disposition of the training forces with the government and Army of Pakistan," the spokesperson added.

In the aftermath of the Raymond Davis saga, Pakistan's demands for reduction in US military trainers, CIA operatives and drone strikes were reiterated in some blunt talk by Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in his recent meeting with US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief General James Mattis.

"General Mattis had very useful discussions with his Pakistan Army counterparts and spent a great deal of time listening to their thoughts on the partnership," the US military spokesperson had earlier commented.

According to the NYT report, the cuts demanded by Pakistan amounted to 25 to 40 per cent of United States Special Operations forces and CIA contractors present in the country.

The critical question is that what impact the reduction of Pakistani soldiers being trained on their own soil would have on the goals that both Pakistan and the US have set for themselves to fight militancy.

"Since we conduct this training on the request of the government and Army of Pakistan, it would be inappropriate for me to speculate on the impact or training goals related to this reported reduction," said the US military spokesperson, who emphasised that the relationship clearly benefited both Pakistan and the US.


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