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US suspends military training with Pakistan

The fund for training Pakistani officers came from the US government’s International Military Education and Training Programme (IMET) but no funds were made available for Pakistan for the next academic year.

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WASHINGTON, Pakistan: After the Trump administration refused to provide funds for the training of Pakistani officers, the US military institutions are having a hard time trying to fill the 66 slots allocated for training of military officers from Pakistan.

The funds for the training are supposed to be released from the US government’s International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, but no funds were made available for Pakistan for the next academic year.

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The news first broke out when the outgoing batch of Pakistani officers, after completing their training at the US National Defense University (NDU,) Washington, were told that the university has been asked to fill the positions for the next year with officers from other nations.

The NDU, along with several other US military institutions, has been training Pakistani officers for decades. But now, it seems, that under the Trump administration the training will stop, maybe for good this time.

The cancellation of slots kept aside for Pakistani officers, however, shows that the suspension now also applies to training programs.

The United States had severed security ties with Pakistan in early 1990s as well over the country’s nuclear program but US officials later acknowledged that it was a mistake. They argued that the severance created a situation which allowed the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups to develop roots in Pakistan.

Pakistani officers have been receiving military training and education in the United States since early 1960s, which were suspended in the 1990s but restored after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The decision to suspend military training for Pakistani officers was also reported by an international news agency, Reuters, which observed that both the US and Pakistani officials were criticizing the move, privately.

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“US officials said they were worried the decision could undermine a key trust-building measure. Pakistani officials warned it could push their military to further look to China or Russia for leadership training,” the report added.

Dan Feldman, a former US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, called the move “very short-sighted and myopic”.

“This will have lasting negative impacts limiting the bilateral relationship well into the future,” he added.

 

The story was first published by Reuters.

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