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US Embassy quiet about troops embedded with Pak Army

By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: Despite a commitment, the US Embassy has not confirmed whether on not former US ambassador Anne W Patterson had lied about Pakistan military’s alleged decision to embed Special US Forces in military operations in the tribal areas.

The claim has already been categorically denied by key GHQ sources. However, officially both the US and Pakistani authorities are keeping mum on the disclosures made by the WikiLeaks.

The US Embassy spokesman, who partially answered the queries of The News on the subject on Friday last and promised to respond by last Sunday or Monday to ascertain if anywhere in Pakistan any number of US Special Forces are involved in any combat operation, finally said he had nothing more to say on the issue.

In its earlier answer to the question whether US Special Forces are involved in any field operation, the US Embassy spokesman had already subtly denied this, saying: “The US military personnel provide training to Pakistani military forces at the request of and in coordination with the Government of Pakistan”.

However, the embassy has finally refused to offer a candid answer in ‘yes’ or ‘no’. In case of ‘no’, former ambassador Anne Patterson would be proved as telling lies by passing wrong information to Washington during her term whereas in case of ‘yes’, it would be proved that red lineshad been crossed by the US military forces with their active participation in military operations within the territorial limits of Pakistan.

Military sources said the GHQ finds no truth in the US Embassy’s cable reportedly written by Anne Patterson and disclosed by WikiLeaks, conveying to the US State Department that the GHQ allowed embedding US Special Forces personnel to support military operations within the limits of Pakistan.

The sources said after the publication of the reported cable in the media, Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani inquired into the matter and got it confirmed that no such permission was ever given by the GHQ at any level.

The sources said the US Embassy in Islamabad was also contacted to ascertain how such a message got conveyed when no such permission was ever granted. The military sources said the US Embassy too confirmed to the GHQ that the information was wrong.

The WikiLeaks cable had said the Pakistani Army approved for the second time in October 2009, the deployment of US special operation elements to support Pakistani military operations, which represented ‘a sea change in their thinking’. The cable said the approval was given by the GHQ. According to Patterson, the approval was done ‘almost certainly with the personal consent of General Kayani’.

It is said that once during Musharraf’s tenure, the US Special Forces were allowed to embed, but even then US forces were not allowed to fire a shot or actively take part in the operations. Instead, the US forces were embedded to monitor the military operation.

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