Pakistan cutting U.S. presence
Move seen as sign of deeper mistrust
WASHINGTON – In a clear sign of Pakistan’s deepening mistrust of the United States, Islamabad has told the Obama administration to reduce the number of U.S. troops in the country and has moved to close three military intelligence liaison centers, U.S. officials said.
The liaison centers, also known as intelligence fusion cells, in Quetta and Peshawar are the main conduits for the United States to share satellite imagery, target data and other intelligence with Pakistani ground forces conducting operations against militants, including Taliban fighters who slip into Afghanistan to attack U.S. and allied forces.
U.S. special operations units have relied on the three facilities to help coordinate operations on both sides of the border, senior U.S. officials said. The U.S. units are now being withdrawn from all three sites and the centers are being closed.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the closings are permanent.
The closings, which have not been publicly announced, remove U.S. advisers from the front lines of the war against militant groups in Pakistan.
The Pakistani decision has not affected the CIA’s ability to launch missiles from drone aircraft in northwest Pakistan.
Closing the three centers and a recent demand by Pakistan to reduce the number of U.S. military personnel in the country are signs of mounting anger in Pakistan over a series of incidents.
In January, Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor, shot and killed two men in Lahore who he said were attempting to rob him. He was arrested on charges of murder but was released and left the country in mid-March, prompting violent protests in several cities.
Then, on May 2, five U.S. helicopters secretly entered Pakistani airspace and a team of U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden and four others at a compound in Abbottabad. The raid deeply embarrassed Pakistan’s military.