The war of words between Pakistan and the U.S. intensified on Tuesday with Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar saying Pakistani troops would be withdrawn from the border with Afghanistan if Washington held back $800 million in military aid.
In a television interview, Chaudhry Mukhtar said $300 million of the amount to be withdrawn goes specifically to troops serving along the restive and porus Durand Line where 1,100 check posts had been set up to prevent cross-traffic of terrorists between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Saying Pakistan cannot afford to keep its military out in the mountains or in the border areas for a long period, the Minister underlined the fact that this component of U.S. military aid was actually reimbursement for expenses incurred in the war on terror. Meanwhile, the Corps Commanders resolved to fight the “menace of terrorism in our own national interest using our own resources”.
The meeting at General Headquarters also took stock of the security situation in general and ongoing operations in Kurram and Mohmand tribal agencies.
Earlier, the U.S. State Department sought to set the record straight regarding the cut in aid by drawing a clear distinction between civilian and military assistance.
“The United States continues to seek a constructive, collaborative, mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan… But as the Secretary said when she testified not too long ago, when it comes to our military assistance, we're not prepared to continue providing that at the pace that we were providing it unless and until we see certain steps taken….With regard to U.S. civilian assistance to Pakistan, that continues unchanged.”