WASHINGTON: The United States has sent a handful of military trainers back into Pakistan in a sign the two nations may be able to achieve some low-level cooperation against militants despite a string of confrontations that have left Washington’s relations with Islamabad in crisis.
Fewer than 10 US special operations soldiers have been sent to a training site near the border city of Peshawar, where they will instruct trainers from Pakistan’s Frontier Corps in counter-insurgency warfare, a US official said.
But Pakistan denied that any US military personnel had returned. The number of American military instructors in Pakistan dropped to zero after US aircraft killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in late November. NATO labeled the border incident an accident but it enraged Pakistanis and sent already tense ties with the United States into a tailspin. “I wouldn’t call this a watershed moment (but) it’s not insignificant that this is happening,” the US official said.
Pakistan’s military denied in a brief statement that US personnel had returned to Pakistan for training programmes. “It is not true. American trainers have not returned to Pakistan,” a senior Pakistani military official said.