US has said it has begun pulling out American troops out of Pakistan,after Islamabad officially asked to reduce troops from its soil amid tensions over American raid that killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
The Pakistan government had asked for scale down of US troop contingent of more than 200 men from the country,earlier this month,Pentagon spokesman Col Dave Lapan said.
“We were recently (within past two weeks) notified in writing that the government of Pakistan wished for the US to reduce its footprint in Pakistan. Accordingly,we have begun those reductions,” he said.
The Pentagon spokesmen did not mention the number of troops to be pulled out. Most of the US forces present on the Pakistani soil are special forces that train and advice Pakistan’s Paramilitary Frontier Corp,engaged in fighting Pakistani Taliban,al-Qaeda and other foreign militants in the restive tribal region,bordering Afghanistan.
The withdrawal of American forces comes in the background of a mounting crisis in relations between the two countries,in the aftermath of the May 2 raid.
Days after the raid,Pakistan’s powerful Army Chief warned that another similar incursion on the Pakistani soil would prompt a review of military cooperation with US and told him Corp Commanders of a decision to reduce the strength of US military presence in Pakistan to what he called “bare minimal”.
Even before the raid that killed bin Laden,Islamabad had told Washington to call back upto 50 military trainers out of 150 special forces personnel after a tiff over a CIA employee who shot and killed two Pakistan military intelligence men in Lahore,The New York Times reported.
Pakistan released the embassy official Raymond Davis after months of haggling.
But now a fresh crisis has hit the relationship,with furious US lawmakers demanding re-evaluation of relationship in the wake of bin Laden raid,charging that Islamabad is playing a double-game of supporting militant groups while enjoying huge American aid.