WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump’a administration has suspended funding released for the training of Pakistani officers at US military institutions following the suspension of financial assistance to Islamabad earlier this year.
Earlier, funds for the Pakistani military officers were released under the US’s International Military Education and Training (IMET) programme and now the 66 seats, reserved for Pakistan for next academic year, have been closed due to non-availability of funds.
One of the institutions, US National Defence University, which kept some seats reserved every year for more than a decade for, first suspended the admission when the outgoing Pakistani officials were informed that the varsity has been asked to get candidates for the vacant seats from other nations.
President Trump earlier this year announced to cut the security assistance to Pakistan, accusing it of providing shelter to militants creating unrest in the already troubled Afghanistan, but Washington hinted at continuing the training programmes for Pakistan amry officers.
The cancellation of quota kept aside for Pakistani officers, however, indicates that the suspension now also applies to training programmes.
Earlier, the security ties between Washington and Islamabad deteriorated in 1990s and it had been showed reservation of country’s nuclear programme. However, the US official later accepted that it was mistake.
Pakistani officers have been receiving military training and education in the United States since early 1960s, which were suspended in the 1990s after security ties deteriorated between two countries. The programme was later restored after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
International media also reported the development with saying that military officials from both sides were slamming the move, privately.
“US officials said they were worried the decision could undermine a key trust-building measure. Pakistani officials warned it could push their military to further look to China or Russia for leadership training,” the report added.
Dan Feldman, a former US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, termed the action “very short-sighted and myopic”. The move will pose negative impact to the bilateral ties, he said.
A State Department spokesperson told journalists in Washington that the value for IMET programme for Pakistan was $2.41 million so far, adding that the latest action will also affect two other initiatives.
Besides Pakistan, US military institutions also valued the training programmes for the Pakistani officials as some of them assumed key positions after returning home.
The former army chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar, the current director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence, also received training in the US under these programmes.