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Pakistan military ‘should forgo American aid’

The chief of Pakistan’s army has said the military should forgo billions of pounds of American aid so it can be diverted to ordinary Pakistanis, as it seeks to deflect criticism following the Osama bin Laden raid.

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said economic aid was “more essential for Pakistan,” than the substantial funding given to the military.

He said: “It is being recommended to the government that the US funds meant for military assistance to the army be diverted toward economic aid to Pakistan.” America gives billions to Islamabad to pay for it to fight Islamic militants along the porous border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan says it has had £5.4 billion in American military assistance in the past decade, though Gen Kayani said the government had taken all but £1.6 billion of that.

He said in future, the aid should be “diverted towards economic aid to Pakistan which can be used for reducing the burden on the common man”.

Pakistan’s military has come under unprecedented public scrutiny since the May 2 American special forces raid which killed Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad.
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The public have also questioned how America was able to launch a large helicopter-borne commando raid deep inside Pakistan’s territory with impunity.

An 18-hour-long Pakistani Taliban assault on a Naval base in Karachi last month heaped further humiliation onto a powerful military machine unused to criticism.

Gen Kayani, confirmed American military trainers had been kicked out of Pakistan in retaliation at the American raid and said intelligence sharing had been curtailed.

He said: “It has been decided to share intelligence strictly on the basis of reciprocity and complete transparency.” He also restated opposition to missile strikes against militant targets in the border regions from unmanned US drones, saying they were “not acceptable under any circumstances.”

However he did urge residents of the border regions to evict all foreign militants because it was “wrong, in principle, to allow others to use our land for fighting their battles.”

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