Claims apart, US troops are waging war on Pak soil
In a significant move that highlights the deepening US worries concerning the terror threat emanating from Pakistan, US Special Operations Forces have been allowed to operate alongside their local counterparts in the country.
US officials revealed that that the Special Operations teams join the Pakistani troops on aid missions only when commanders determine that there is relatively little security risk.
The US troops are allowed to defend themselves and return fire if attacked.
But the official emphasized the joint missions aren't supposed to be combat operations, and the Americans often participate in civilian garb, The Wall Street Journal reports.
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US troops have been told to maintain a low profile
This is an important move considering Pakistan's long stated objection to allowing any foreign troops from operating on its soil.
Admitting that the special US commandoes have started accompanying their Pakistani colleagues on aid missions, Pakistan officials said that Washington has been clearly told that troops must maintain a "low profile."
"Going out in the open, that has negative optics, that is something we have to work out. This whole exercise could be counterproductive if people see US boots on the ground," the newspaper quoted a Pakistani official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity due to the sensitive topic, as saying.
US has about 120 trainers in Pakistan
Despite Pakistan's denial over allowing any foreign troops on its soil, the presence of US commandoes has increased substantially in the country, and according to reports, America has about 120 trainers in the country.
"The programme is set to expand again with new joint missions to oversee small-scale development projects aimed at winning over tribal leaders," officials familiar with the plan said.
In Pakistan, the US military helps train both the regular military and the Frontier Corps, a force drawn from residents of the tribal regions but led by Pakistani Army officers.
A senior US military official also claimed that the Special Operations Forces have developed a closer relationship with the Frontier Corps, and go out into the field more frequently with those units.
US has been evaluating the effectiveness of its aid
'The Frontier Corps are more accepting partners,' the official said.
The US administration has been evaluating the effectiveness of its aid given to Pakistan for fighting terrorism.
"We are continually evaluating how to make those as effective as possible, how to channel them so that as much as this assistance as possible gets to the intended beneficiaries," State Department spokesman P J Crowley said.
Pakistan has received more than $13 billion worth of US aid post 9/11 terrorist attacks. It has sought more weaponry like drones and fighter aircraft from the Barack Obama administration.