ISLAMABAD – Pakistan's army ordered a reduction in U.S. military personnel operating inside the country on Thursday in apparent protest at a unilateral American commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
The army has been heavily criticized at home for allowing the country's sovereignty to be violated during Monday's operation in a busy garrison town not far from the capital, Islamabad. It is also facing international charges it may have been harboring the al-Qaida chief, given his location.
The army statement, the first since the raid, appeared aimed at countering both charges.
It said a decision had been made to reduce the number of U.S. military personnel to the "minimum essential" levels, but gave no more details and a spokesman declined to elaborate. U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment.
The U.S. has around 275 declared U.S. military personnel in Pakistan at any one time, some of them helping train the Pakistan army.
The Pakistani army also warned that it would review its military and intelligence cooperation with Washington if the United States carries out any more similar raids. Earlier, the government had warned of "disastrous consequences" if the U.S. staged a similar attack on its territory.
But in an apparent nod to international criticism, the army admitted to "shortcomings in developing intelligence on the presence" of bin Laden in Pakistan.
Still, it said its Inter-Services Intelligence agency had given initial information to the CIA about bin Laden, but claimed the "CIA did not share further development of intelligence on the case with the ISI, contrary to the existing practice between the two services."
Ties between American and Pakistan were already strained before Monday's raid because of American allegations it was failing to crackdown on Afghan Taliban factions sheltering on its soil and Pakistan anger over U.S. drone strikes on its soil.
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