Amid anger in Pakistan over a U.S. covert operation raid that led to Osama bin Laden’s death, the Pentagon has said that it was up to Islamabad to decide whether they want American troops to remain in the country or not.
The comments came a day after the Pakistani army decided “to reduce the strength of U.S. military personnel in Pakistan to the minimum essential“.
“The Chairman has repeatedly noted that the small number of U.S. military trainers in Pakistan are there at the invitation of the Pakistani government, and therefore subject to that government’s prerogatives,” said a spokesman of Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“He has seen press reporting that those prerogatives might be changing, but until such time as he has been officially informed of such by Gen (Ashfaq Pervez) Kayani, the Chairman will withhold comment,” the statement said, adding Mullen continues to believe in the importance of U.S. military partnership with Pakistan.
The Pentagon statement came after the Pakistan Army in a statement from Rawalpindi said Kayani in a meeting with top commanders made it very clear that any similar action, violating the sovereignty of Pakistan, will warrant a review on the level of military (and) intelligence cooperation with the United States.
“The Corps Commanders were informed about the decision to reduce the strength of US military personnel in Pakistan to the minimum essential,” the Pakistan army statement said.
Meanwhile, the State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the relatively small U.S. military contingent is there at the invitation of the Pakistani government, to perform, train, and equip operations for the Pakistani military.