US President Donald Trump’s administration has quietly started cutting scores of Pakistani officers from coveted training and educational programs that have been a hallmark of bilateral military relations for more than a decade, Reuters reported quoting US officials.
The move, which has not been previously reported, is one of the first known impacts from Trump’s decision this year to suspend U.S. security assistance to Pakistan to compel it to crack down on Islamic militants.
The Pentagon and the Pakistani military did not comment directly on the decision or the internal deliberations, but officials from both countries privately criticized the move.
US officials, speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, 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 effective suspension of Pakistan from the US government’s International Military Education and Training program (IMET) will close off places that had been set aside for 66 Pakistani officers this year, a State Department spokesperson told Reuters.
The places will either be unfilled or given to officers from other countries.
Dan Feldman, a former U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, called the move “very short-sighted and myopic”.
“This will have lasting negative impacts limiting the bilateral relationship well into the future,” Feldman told Reuters.