Pak expels British military trainers: report

Pak expels British military trainers: report

The Ministry of Defence here confirmed that at least 18 military advisers, deployed as part of a 15 million pounds programme to train the paramilitary Frontier Corps, have been withdrawn from Pakistan. Most are already back in the UK, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Their removal is seen as an indirect casualty of worsening relations between Pakistan and the US over the May 2 Navy Seal raid in Abbottabad, which was conducted without Pakistani consent.

Although British relations with Pakistan are warmer, the embattled army, stung by a barrage of public criticism, is keen to demonstrate its independence from all western allies, the daily said.

Since bin Laden's death, Pakistan has sent home at least 120 US military trainers, most of whom were engaged in training the FC.

The British team, a mix of seasoned officers and NCOs, had been stationed at a British-funded FC base near the capital of Balochistan, Quetta.

The training scheme began last August and was scheduled to run until at least summer 2013. The MoD hopes to redeploy the team once the tensions abate.

The daily reported that in an email statement, a spokeswoman said the trainers had been withdrawn "on a temporary basis" at the request of the Pakistani government in response to "security concerns". "The training teams will continue their own training and will be ready to redeploy at the first possible opportunity," the spokeswoman said.
The 60,000-strong FC, which is deployed along the length of the 1,600-mile border with Afghanistan, has long been in the frontline of Pakistani efforts to combat Taliban militancy and flush al-Qaeda from its tribal havens.

But its troops are considered under-trained and ill-equipped, and Pakistan's western allies have in recent years prioritised a multi-million pound effort to bolster their skills and equipment, the report said.

That programme has now virtually collapsed as US-Pakistani relations fall to their lowest point in a decade.

The trouble began in January after a CIA contractor, Raymond Davis, shot dead two men in Lahore, prompting the withdrawal of a quarter of the US training force.

The reductions accelerated following the bin Laden raid, as the military sought to signal its displeasure with its western allies – in particular the CIA – and to boost its faltering public support.

The British team at the Quetta camp was reportedly working alongside six US advisers, helping to train 360 recruits at a time on 12-week courses.The US has funded a much larger FC training centre on the outskirts of Peshawar.

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