US announces reduction in number of troops in Pakistan
The United States said Friday that it had "nearly withdrawn" troops from Pakistan after it was asked to reduce their number due to tensions over May's covert raid to kill al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, DPA reported.
Relations between Pakistan and the United States took a nosedive after the May 2 attack by Navy Seals upon the al-Qaeda chief's hideout in Abbottabad, 60 kilometres north-east of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
Pakistani officials were incensed that they were not warned about the attack and embarassed that the US team pulled off the strike without Pakistani forces noticing.
Vice Admiral Michael LeFever, US defence representative in Pakistan, said that the decision to pull out troops was taken after a request from Islamabad.
"We recently received a written request from the government of Pakistan to reduce the number of US military personnel here, and we have nearly completed that reduction," said LeFever.
"We've been honoured to partner with the Pakistan military and we believe our service members here provide excellent support to Pakistan's military in the fight against violent extremists."
Pakistani army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kaynai, had announced after the Abbottabad incident that the number of US troops will be reviewed.
"In line with the demands of these important factors, the army has drastically cut down the strength of US troops stationed in Pakistan," he said at senior commanders meeting on Thursday.
The exact number of US troops in Pakistan is not available, but defence analysts put the figures at around 130, most of them working as trainers.
The reduction of US security personnel is another blow to mutual ties, which are enduring a rough patch.