Washington: The United States (US) military trainers, which were sent back from Pakistan after Salala attack, have returned to 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, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
According to reports, speaking on the condition of anonymity a U.S. official said that almost 10 U.S. 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 (FC) in counter-insurgency warfare.
The number of American military instructors in Pakistan dropped to zero after U.S. 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 U.S. official said.
The picture is less encouraging on cooperation between U.S. and Pakistani intelligence, which several American officials said remained dire as Pakistani officials resist easing restrictions on issuing visas to U.S. intelligence personnel.
In retaliation for the border deaths, Pakistan also shut down ground supply routes crucial for keeping U.S. and NATO soldiers equipped in neighboring Afghanistan, and clamped down on U.S. military personnel operating in Pakistan.
“At a strategic level, the relationship is still at a very rough place,” the official said.
“There’s a lot more we want to do to improve it, but (the trainers’ return) is an important sign that at least in some areas we’re getting a healthy sense of normalcy.”
Although the return of the trainers is a positive step towards building relationship between two countries but some confrontations including 33-year imprisonment of Dr Shakeel Afridi, a US spy who helped them in locating al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, are still not allowing both nations to cooperate each other in a complete manner.