US to send 100 military trainers to Pakistan

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Washington, Mar 2: The US military is planning to send around hundred American trainers to work with a Pakistani paramilitary force that is fighting against al Qaeda, the Taliban and other radicals in that country's troubled tribal areas, US military officials have said.

Initially trainers would be restricted to training compounds, but after seeking permission from the Pakistan Government they could accompany Pakistani troops on missions "to the point of contact" with militants, the New York Times quoted a senior US military official, as saying. The British Government is also mulling sending a similar training mission to Pakistan, officials said. However, a spokesman at the British Embassy here had declined to comment over the matter.

"The U.S. is bringing in a small number of trainers to assist Pakistan in their efforts to improve training of the Frontier Corps," Elizabeth O. Colton, a spokeswoman for the United States Embassy in Islamabad, said in an e-mail message.

"The US trainers will be primarily focused on assisting the Pakistan cadre who will do the actual training of the Frontier Corps troops," Colton added.

Colton, however, denied divulging details about numbers of trainers that will be send to Pakistan, but US Defence Department officials said that the number of American trainers could grow to about 100.

American officials are aware of the sensitivities of Pakistanis towards any US military or trainer presence, and spoke largely on condition of anonymity due to the diplomatic concerns.

The US officials are also some other steps to help Pakistan in increasing that country's long-term ability to fight a newly resurgent al Qaeda and other extremist groups in the tribal areas.

The US Central Command has sent a four-member intelligence team to Pakistan at the request of Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The Americans are also helping with techniques on sharing satellite imagery and addressing Pakistani requests to buy equipment used to intercept the militants' communications, a senior American officer said.

It would be pertinent to mention here that time and again the Pakistan Government has denied permission to US combat troops to fight al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the tribal areas, but some Pakistani leaders had privately indicated that they would like trainers from the US teaching new skills to their soldiers.


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