Monday, 11 July 2011

Pakistan army says it is capable of operations sans US aid

The Pakistani military said Monday it was capable of fighting without American assistance, adding that it had not been informed officially of a US decision to suspend $800 million worth of aid.

“The army in the past as well as at present, has conducted successful military operations using its own resources without any external support whatsoever,” military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas wrote.

“We have not received any official intimation or correspondence on the matter,” Abbas wrote.

President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, William Daley, confirmed in a television interview on Sunday that the United States has decided to withhold almost a third of its annual $2.7 billion security assistance to Islamabad.

Relations between the key allies in the war on Al Qaeda drastically worsened after US commandos killed Osama bin Laden on May 2 in Pakistan.

Abbas referred AFP to an extraordinary statement from army chief of staff General Ashfaq Kayani on June 9 recommending that US military aid be re-directed towards civilians.

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.

Pakistan says it has 140,000 soldiers in the northwest, more than the 99,000 American troops in Afghanistan, fighting a local Taliban insurgency.

India on Monday welcomed the US decision to suspend $800 million worth of military aid to its Pakistan.“It is not desirable that this region had to be heavily armed by the US, which will upset the equilibrium in the region itself,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said, according the domestic PTI news agency.“To that extent, India welcomes this step,” he said.

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