Friday, May 6, 2011

Pakistan Announces Cuts in US Military Presence After Bin Laden Raid

I can't be the only one thinking that America would be better served by cutting back on the estimated $18 billion in aid money we send to Pakistan.

Apparently, SEAL Team 6 notwithstanding, The US Military presence in Pakistan is currently limited to about 300 advisers and liaison officers. Not surprisingly, Pakistan's military and Inter-services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) are unhappy with a unilateral US special ops raid.

However, given that the Navy SEALs were able to swoop in undetected on a compound housing the world's most wanted man that was 70 miles from the Pakistani capital and a few hundred yards from the Pakistani equivalent of West Point, this also gives both the Pakistani military and ISI black eyes and bloody lips.

If the Pakistani Army or ISI were searching for Bin Laden like they has assured many Western nations, then they had failed miserably. If they were seeking to protect Bin Laden from the US Military, then they had failed spectacularly.

Pakistan is calling for cuts in the U.S. military personnel inside the country after U.S. Navy SEALs killed Usama bin Laden in his Pakistan compound -- without Pakistan's help or prior knowledge.

The siege has only increased the strain on relations between the two countries, as some U.S. lawmakers are calling for cuts to the $1.3 billion in U.S. aid to Pakistan for its failure to locate bin Laden. The Al Qaeda leader was found and killed in a large $1 million compound in an army town not far from the capital of Islamabad. Lawmakers have suggested Pakistan was either too incompetent to catch bin Laden or was complicit in protecting him.

In a statement Thursday, Pakistan's army fired back, saying U.S. military personnel inside the country would be reduced to the "minimum essential" levels to protest the American commando raid that killed bin Laden early Monday local time. The army also threatened to cut cooperation with Washington if it stages more unilateral raids on its territory.

The statement from Pakistan's army was issued after a meeting of top generals. The statement gave no details on the numbers, and a spokesman declined to elaborate.

The statement said the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency, or ISI, had given initial information to the CIA about bin Laden, but claimed the "CIA did not share further development of intelligence on the case with the ISI, contrary to the existing practice between the two services."

The raid on bin Laden has sharpened tensions between the two countries. Despite the calls from some U.S. lawmakers for cuts in aid to the country, the Obama administration and British Prime Minister David Cameron have indicated they would continue with their policy of engaging with the country.
So when all is said and done, this is basically an empty gesture on Pakistan's part meant either for domestic consumption or to raise sovereignty issues as a means of deflecting questions about Osama Bin Laden living unmolested only a few hundred yards from the front gate of Pakistan's national military academy.

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