ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan military said on Monday that it was capable of fighting without American assistance while the US administration responded that its “uneasy ally” needed to make a greater effort in the fight against terrorists.“The army in the past as well as at present, has conducted successful military operations using its own resources without any external support whatsoever,” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General, Major General Athar Abbas, said.A top US diplomat had, in a televised interview on Sunday, confirmed that “the United States has decided to withhold almost a third of its annual $2.7 billion security assistance to Islamabad”.
Abbas wrote to a foreign news agency that the Pakistan defence forces had not been informed officially of a US decision to suspend $800 million worth of aid. “We have not received any official intimation or correspondence on the matter.”He also referred AFP to an extraordinary statement from Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on June 9 recommending that the US military aid be redirected towards civilians.Soon after the ISPR director general’s statement, the US administration, while defending its decision to suspend $800 million of military aid to Pakistan, said its “uneasy ally” needed to make a greater effort in the fight against terrorists.
“When it comes to our military assistance, we’re not prepared to continue providing that at the pace that we were providing it unless and until we see certain steps taken,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.The US was particularly “looking to improve our cooperation in counter-terrorism, in counterinsurgency”, she told journalists.“The United States continues to seek a constructive, collaborative, mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan,” she stressed, adding, “We’ve been talking to Pakistan at all levels about the issues behind these decisions.”
Nuland further said, “We are working together on how we can improve our relationship particularly in the categories of counter-terrorism and counterintelligence.”She recalled that on May 25, Islamabad demanded that about 100 US advisers leave Pakistani soil, effectively halting military training, adding, “We obviously can’t do that in an environment where Pakistan has asked our trainers to go.”The suspended aid includes about $300 million to reimburse Pakistan for some of the costs of deploying more than 100,000 soldiers along the Afghan border, according to the New York Times.
On Sunday, US President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, William Daley, had told a television channel that the US had decided to withhold almost a third of its annual $2.7 billion security assistance to Pakistan.Pakistan says it has 140,000 soldiers in the northwest, more than the 99,000 American troops in Afghanistan, fighting a local Taliban insurgency.The US has long called on Pakistan to do more to crack down on terrorists, such as the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, who use its soil to attack within Afghanistan, but the army says its troops are too over-stretched.Relations between the key allies in the war on al Qaeda drastically worsened after US commandos killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May. – APP