ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army has decided not to reverse its decision to expel US military trainers and scale back the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives in the country despite Washington’s punitive move to withhold $800 million worth of assistance.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the corps commanders chaired by Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Tuesday to discuss the fallout of the US step, said a military official. “We are not going to reconsider some of the decisions we have taken with regards to the activities of CIA in Pakistan,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
The security establishment, which was irked by the unilateral US raid that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in May, launched a crackdown against the ‘CIA network’ to limit its activities.
Meanwhile, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Khalid Shameem Wynne told a top visiting US commander that Pakistan would not accept conditional aid and regretted the lack of acknowledgement by Washington for Pakistan’s “sacrifices in the battle against militancy.”
General James N Mattis, Commander US Central Command (Centcom), was on an announced trip to Pakistan to discuss regional security in the wake of recent developments. However, there was no official word if the top US general met General Kayani.
It is believed that in recent months General Kayani has made deliberate efforts not to publicise his engagements with US officials after being perceived to be too close to the Americans in the wake of the Bin Laden debacle.
A statement issued by the ISPR after the corps commanders meeting appeared to play down the US decision to suspend military assistance. “The forum reiterated the resolve to fight the menace of terrorism in our own national interest using our own resources,” the statement read.
However, it did not reveal if thousands of Pakistani troops would be pulled out from the Pak-Afghan border region if relations with the US deteriorated.
The somewhat mild reaction was attributed to the fact that the military hopes to settle the issue of withholding of aid through dialogue with American authorities, said military sources.
However, sources say, the corps commanders expressed their concern over the US decision, noting that it would not help the anti-terrorism campaign and will also cast a negative impact on the Pak-US bilateral cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
The top brass was also irked by the many strings attached to the US assistance. “No country has done more than Pakistan to eliminate al Qaeda and its affiliate groups,” said a senior military official. “Yet we remain in the eye of the storm, which is unfair.”
The official added that military commanders assert that the US must keep in mind the sacrifices of the Pakistani armed forces before making such harsh decisions.
According to an ISPR spokesman, the army chief appreciated the conduct of the ongoing operations. Referring to Mohmand Agency, he instructed that all efforts must be utilised in coordination with the civil administration for safe repatriation of the IDPs.
He said that the aim of the operation in Kurram Agency was to clear the area of miscreants involved in terrorism, kidnapping, killing of locals and blocking of roads connecting lower and upper Kurram.
RAWALPINDI: Pakistan’s military leadership on Sunday unanimously rejected the allegations leveled against Pakistani security institutions by the United States.
The six hour long emergency Corps Commanders meeting chaired by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani concluded in Rawalpindi on Sunday. Sources said no formal declaration of the meeting will be issued.
Chairman joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC) General Khalid Shamim Wynne expressed concern over the recent statements made by the US, and said that Pak-US relations need to be improved.
Sources said the military top brass decided that every decision is to be taken in Pakistan’s interest and that attacks from Afghanistan on the Pak-Afghan border will not be tolerated in the future.
An emergency meeting of Corps Commanders was called by General Kayani in the wake of the prevailing security situation and tension in relations with the United States.
An Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said the meeting was being chaired by Kayani. Issues regarding national security are on top of the agenda.
All corps commanders and principle staff officers attended the meeting.
According to sources, recent allegations leveled by US military chief Mike Mullen that Pakistan has links with the Haqqani network will also be discussed.
The Pakistan Army has denied accusations by senior US officials that Pakistan’s intelligence service supports the Haqqani network, saying it is based in Afghanistan.
However, spokesman for the ISPR Major General Athar Abbas did acknowledge that the ISI had contacts with the Haqqanis.
He told CNN that any intelligence agency prefers keeping contacts with opposition groups and terrorist organizations for some sort of positive outcome.
He stressed that this does not mean the ISI supports or endorses the organization.
Abbas also added that Pakistan is not the only country which maintains contacts with the Haqqanis.
He also expressed his shock at Mullen’s assertion that Pakistan was complicit in recent attacks against the US Embassy in Kabul.
In an earlier statement, Kayani termed the comments by Mullen as ‘unfortunate’, and ‘not based on facts’.
In the first official reaction to the slew of public statements made by various levels of the US administration against the ISI and suspected links between the Haqqani network and the Pakistan establishment, Kayani said that he had held a constructive meeting with Admiral Mullen in Spain last week.
He termed the statements following that meeting as very disturbing.
On the question of contacts with Haqqani network, Kayani said that Admiral Mullen knows well which countries are in contact with the Haqqanis. Singling out Pakistan as the chief protagonist is neither fair nor productive, he said.
‘Self-defeating blame game’
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday rejected US allegations linking Islamabad with the Haqqani terror network, saying the “blame game is self-defeating”.
Gilani said such accusations would only benefit the militants, and added that they showed US policy in Afghanistan was in “disarray”.
“We strongly reject assertions of complicity with the Haqqanis or of proxy war,” he said in a policy statement issued by his office amid a growing rift with the United States.
“Blame game is self-defeating… It will only benefit the enemies of peace. Only terrorists and militants will gain from any fissures and divisions.”
The White House demanded Friday that Pakistan “break any link they have” with the Haqqanis, the al Qaeda-linked Taliban faction blamed for the recent attack on the US embassy in Kabul.
A day earlier top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen directly accused Pakistan’s intelligence service of supporting the network’s attack on the embassy and a truck bombing on a NATO outpost.