US suspends military training with Pakistan

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Islamabad: Days after Russia signed an agreement to allow Pakistani troops to receive training at the its defence centres, the Trump administration today suspended more than a decade-long military training programme of Pakistani personnel at the US institutions.

It may be mentioned that Pakistan and Russia signed an agreement at their first Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC) meeting in Rawalpindi on Tuesday.  During the meet they discussed about the current status of the bilateral defence relations and arrived at an agreement that Pakistani troops will receive training at the Russian military training institutes.

The relations between Pakistan and the US nosedived this January after President Donald Trump leveled allegations against Islamabad of giving nothing to Washington but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven” to terrorists.

The US Congress also passed a bill to slash Pakistan’s defence aid to USD 150 million, significantly below the historic level of more than USD one billion per year.

The US military institutions are struggling to fill the 66 slots they had kept aside for officers from Pakistan for the next academic year, as the Trump administration refused to provide funds for their training, the Dawn newspaper reported, quoting official sources.

The fund for the training of 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, it said.

The suspension of the training first became apparent when the US National Defence University (NDU) in Washington, which has had reserved seats for Pakistani officers for more than a decade, told the outgoing Pakistani officers that the varsity has been asked to fill the positions for the next year with officers from other nations.

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

So far there is no response from Pakistani official to this move by the US. Pakistan has shown eagerness to build military-to-military level ties with Russia.

Earlier this year, the then foreign minister Khawaja Asif visited Moscow during which the two sides agreed to set up a commission to boost military cooperation.

Russia has over the past three years provided four Mi-35M combat and cargo helicopters to Pakistan and the militaries of the two countries also held joint drills codenamed ‘Friendship’.

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