Capable of operations sans US aid, says Pak army

Islamabad/Washington: A day after the US moved to suspend USD 800 million military aid to it, Pakistan army on Monday claimed it would continue to conduct operations without American assistance, even while saying it had no official intimation of Washington`s decision.

"We have no comments" on the move, said a spokesman for the Pakistani military in response to the reports, claiming, that US had suspended aid to Pak military.

"We have not received any official intimation or correspondence on the matter."

The Pakistan Army, "in the past as well as at present, has conducted successful military operations using its own resources without any external support whatsoever," the spokesman said.

Apparently, angered by Pakistan`s reluctance to go full throttle in the war against terror, White House Chief of Staff Tom Donilon confirmed that US has decided to with hold a third of its annual USD 2.7 billion security assistance to Pakistan, reflecting months of bickering between the allies.

The US officials also indicated that the step was also in retaliation for Islamabad`s call for a "significant cutback" of American military trainers on its soil.

The Pakistan army spokesman referred to a statement issued by General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani on June 9, that US "military aid should be re-directed towards civilians wherever it is needed."

Kayani`s extraordinary statement came after a meeting of the army`s top corps commanders on June 9, where he recommended to the civilian government that US funds meant for military assistance should be "diverted towards economic aid…which can be used for reducing the burden on the common man".

The suspended aid includes about USD 300 million to reimburse Pakistan for deploying more than 100,000 troops along the Afghan border to flush out Taliban and al-Qaeda militants, New York Times reported.

The present Pak-US impasse comes as Washington has stepped up pressure on Islamabad to crack down on al-Qaeda linked Haqqani Taliban faction, who used Pakistani soil to launch attacks against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The Pakistan army has claimed its troops are overstretched to undertake such an offensive on North Waziristan. US Media reports have said that Pakistani military intelligence still maintains its links with groups like Haqqani network.

"A series of events over the last eight months have affected our bilateral relations. As a result, the Pakistan Army has requested a significant cutback of US military trainers, and limited our ability to obtain visas," Pentagon spokesman Col Dave Lapan had told PTI in Washington yesterday.

"While the Pakistani military leadership tells us this is a temporary step, the reduced presence of our trainers and other personnel means we can`t deliver the assistance that requires training and support to be effective," Lapan said.

He was responding to a report in The New York Times that the US had suspended 800 million dollars in military aid to Pakistan.

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