WASHINGTON: The US military said Wednesday it plans to scale back the number of American troops in Pakistan after Islamabad made a formal request, amid tensions over a US raid against Osama bin Laden.
“We were recently (within past 2 weeks) notified in writing that the government of Pakistan wished for the US to reduce its footprint in Pakistan.
Accordingly, we have begun those reductions,” spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said in an email to reporters.
There are more than 200 US military personnel in Pakistan serving mostly as trainers as part of a long-running effort to counter Al-Qaeda and religious militants.
But the uneasy relationship between Pakistan and the United States has come under severe strain following a unilateral raid by US commandos that killed bin Laden on May 2 in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, home to a military academy.
President Barack Obama's administration has stepped up diplomatic efforts to smooth over the crisis sparked by the raid on the Al-Qaeda leader's compound, while some lawmakers in Congress have called for cutting aid to Islamabad.
Since the bin Laden operation, the United States has kept up CIA drone strikes on militant targets in Pakistan's northwest. The bombing raids are deeply unpopular and often draw public criticism from Pakistani officials.