Saturday, 14 May 2011

Pakistan Military Chief Cancels U.S. Visit

Pakistan's senior military officer, General Khalid Shameem Wynne, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, on May 13 canceled a scheduled visit to the U.S., a military official said.

Alluding to the fallout from a unilateral U.S. commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2, the senior official said the visit had been canceled "in view of the prevailing environment."

"General Khalid Shameem Wynne contacted his counterpart in the U.S., Admiral Mike Mullen, and informed him about the cancellation of his visit to the U.S. that was scheduled from May 22 to 27," the official said.

Wynne is the ceremonial head of Pakistan's powerful military establishment that is effectively run by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani.

The Pakistani official said the visit to the U.S. had been at the invitation of Mullen and was scheduled a couple of months ago.

Wynne informed Mullen by telephone that he would not be coming, the official added, but declined to give any further details.

Under growing domestic pressure to punish Washington for the bin Laden raid, Pakistan's civilian government said May 12 it would review counterterrorism cooperation with the U.S.

It was unclear whether the move was intended as a threat.

Washington said it did not inform Islamabad that an elite team of Navy SEALs had helicoptered into the garrison town of Abbottabad until the commandos had cleared Pakistani airspace, carrying with them bin Laden's corpse.

Pakistanis have been outraged at the perceived impunity of the U.S. raid, while asking whether their military was too incompetent to know bin Laden was living close to a major forces academy, or, worse, conspired to protect him.