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Pakistan Calls For U.S. To Reduce Military Presence

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Pakistan Calls For U.S. To Reduce Military Presence

Pakistan Calls For U.S. To Reduce Military Presence

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

Pakistan's army says it wants the U.S. to reduce its military footprint in that country. That comes as an apparent protest of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and that raid is now the subject of a Pakistan army investigation.

From Islamabad, NPR's Julie McCarthy reports.

JULIE McCARTHY: Today's statement was the first by the Pakistan army since revelations that Osama bin Laden had lived down the road from the country's elite military academy in a town filled with retired officers. How he could have gone undetected for years is the embarrassing question reverberating from Islamabad to Washington.

The decision that the Americans must reduce the strength of their military personnel to the minimum essential came after a day-long emergency meeting of corps commanders, convened by the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani.

The general, whom no visiting American dignitary dares miss, heads the army in a country that has revered its armed forces. But Pakistan's most prestigious and powerful institution became an object of ridicule this week.

In a written statement today, the army admitted shortcomings in developing intelligence on the presence of bin Laden in Pakistan. Pakistan's foreign secretary, Salman Bashir, also told a news conference speculation that elements within Pakistan's CIA counterpart, the ISI, were providing cover to bin Laden was absolutely wrong.

Secretary SALMAN BASHIR (Foreign Secretary, Pakistan): In fact - and this is what has been admitted even by the United States government -that some of the leaks that led to the identification of this particular place resulted from the information-sharing between the ISI by CIA.

McCARTHY: The army has also come under sharp criticism at home for not preventing the American raid. Many Pakistanis view the U.S. commando operation on their soil as a flagrant violation of their sovereignty.

Washington has reserved the right to act again against high-value terror targets, but Pakistan's army said today any similar action will warrant a review of its military and intelligence cooperation with the United States.

It also warned archrival India, which might be tempted to emulate the U.S., that any misadventure would meet a strong response. Again Foreign Secretary Bashir.

Sec. BASHIR: Make no mistake: The nation as a whole and our state institutions are determined to uphold our sovereignty and to safeguard our security.

McCARTHY: The army felt compelled to say that the nation's strategic assets, a reference presumably to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, are well-protected, and an elaborate defensive mechanism is in place.

Former Air Vice Marshal Shahzad Chaudhry says the Pakistan army is deeply frustrated by the way the Americans have disregarded what he says is a clear understanding that operations on Pakistan's territory must be done by Pakistani forces.

Mr. SHAHZAD CHAUDHRY (Former Air Vice Marshal): Here, the U.S. military violates that particular red line, so to say, or the understanding that has existed and perhaps ends up embarrassing Pakistan to the utmost.

McCARTHY: Chaudhry says politics may be a motive for the U.S. going it alone. That way, he says, the Americans would not have to share any trophy with Pakistan. But, he asks, if it comes at the price of severely damaged relations with a key ally: Was it worth it?

Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Islamabad.

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