- Associated Press
Thursday, May 5, 2011

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s army on Thursday called for cuts in the number of U.S. military personnel inside the country to protest the American commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The army also threatened to cut cooperation with the United States if Washington stages more unilateral raids within Pakistan.

The statement, the first since the raid early Monday morning, signaled the army’s anger at the unilateral U.S. operation. It also was aimed at pacifying domestic critics who have accused the army of failing to protect the country’s sovereignty - potent charges in a country where anti-Americanism runs deep.

Ties between Washington and Islamabad already were strained before the raid because of American allegations that Pakistan was failing to crack down on Afghan Taliban factions sheltering on its soil. Pakistan was angered by U.S. drone strikes on Taliban suspects inside the country.

The statement did not refer to international suspicions that the army, or elements within it, may have sheltered bin Laden, but it admitted intelligence “shortcomings” in not spotting bin Laden, who was living in a large compound in Abbottabad, an army town just a two hours drive from the capital, Islamabad.

The United States has about 275 declared U.S. military personnel in Pakistan at any one time, some of them helping train the Pakistan army. U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Pakistani army also warned that it would review its military and intelligence cooperation with Washington if the United States carries out any more similar raids. Earlier, the government had warned of “disastrous consequences” if the U.S. staged a similar attack on its territory.

The army said the Inter-Services Intelligence agency had given initial information to the CIA about bin Laden, but it claimed the “CIA did not share further development of intelligence on the case with the ISI, contrary to the existing practice between the two services.”

The raid on bin Laden’s hide-out has sharpened tensions between the two countries. Some U.S. lawmakers have called on Washington to cut its aid to Pakistan, which receives more than $1 billion a year.

“It is not always an easy relationship,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday in Rome.

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