Skip to main content

Washington to reduce military presence in Pakistan

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The move comes at the request of Islamabad
  • Washington is seeking to repair relations with Islamabad
  • Relations were frayed when the U.S. military entered Pakistan by stealth to kill bin Laden
  • "It's an act of war," says former president Pervez Musharraf of the U.S. raid

(CNN) -- The United States is reducing its military presence in Pakistan at the request of that country's government, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.

"We were recently within (the) past two weeks notified in writing that the government of Pakistan wished for the U.S. to reduce its footprint in Pakistan. Accordingly, we have begun those reductions," said Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan.

More than 200 members of the U.S. military were in the country to train Pakistanis and aid them in using equipment.

The announcement comes during a week in which Washington has sought to put relations with Islamabad back on track after its stealth May 1 raid in which U.S. Navy SEALs flew into Abbottabad and killed Osama bin Laden.

Pakistani government officials have condemned the raid as a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and said they did not know the al Qaeda leader had been living there. But CIA Director Leon Panetta -- nominated by Obama to succeed Robert Gates as defense secretary -- told House members during a closed-door briefing early this month that Pakistan was "either involved or incompetent," according to two sources in attendance.

On Tuesday, the former Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, joined in condemning the U.S. action. "No country has a right to intrude into any other country," he told CNN's Piers Morgan in an interview to air at 9 p.m. ET Thursday. "Actually, technically, if you see it legally, it's an act of war."

At the same time, Washington has demanded specific actions from the Pakistani government to demonstrate its commitment to rooting out terrorists in the country.

Musharraf: Bin Laden raid 'act of war'

Last week, Marc Grossman, the State Department's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, traveled to Islamabad, where he delivered a set of demands, saying the United States is looking for actions, not words from Pakistan, according to a senior official briefed on the talks. The official was not authorized to speak on the record.

During meetings with President Asif Ali Zardari, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Pervaiz Kayani and Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, Grossman said the United States is looking for more cooperation from Pakistan in fighting extremism. The meetings were described by the senior official briefed on the talks as "tough but fruitful."

Specifically, the United States is looking for Pakistan to demonstrate a willingness to go after senior al Qaeda targets, take action against factories producing improvised explosive devices for use against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and support Taliban reconciliation.

During the meetings with Grossman, the senior U.S. official said, Kayani voiced concern about the continuation of U.S. drone strikes against targets inside Pakistan, but he and other members of the Pakistani leadership expressed a willingness to press al Qaeda, conduct joint operations and support reconciliation.

Last Sunday, protesters held a sit-in near the country's main port in Karachi, demanding an end to the drone strikes.

The United States does not officially acknowledge drone attacks in Pakistan, but it is the only country operating in the region with the capacity to carry out such strikes. It was once widely believed that the program had the tacit approval and cooperation of Pakistan's intelligence agency.