Impeached US President Donald Trump has given a go-ahead for the resumption of Pakistan’s participation in coveted US military training and educational programme more than a year after it was halted, the State Department said on Thursday.
The decision to recommence Pakistan’s participation in the International Military Education and Training Programme, or IMET – for more than a decade a pillar of US-Pakistani military relations – highlights warming ties the US and Pakistan.
Washington also has acknowledged Pakistan’s effort to facilitate negotiations with the Afghan Taliba. on a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The State Department administers IMET. It was a small aspect of US security aid programmes for Pakistan worth approximately $2 billion that remain suspended after Donald Trump put everything on hold.
After an attack earlier this year by an extremist group that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary troops, US officials called on Pakistan to take “sustained and irreversible action” against militants allegedly operating from its territory.
A State Department spokesperson said in an email that Trump’s 2018 decision to suspend security assistance authorised “narrow exceptions for programmes that support vital US national security interests.” The decision to restore Pakistani participation in IMET was “one such exception,” she said.
The programme “provides an opportunity to increase bilateral cooperation between our countries on shared priorities,” she added. “We want to continue to build on this foundation through concrete actions that advance regional security and stability.”
A second US official said on condition of anonymity that Pakistan was in the process of selecting officers to send to the United States.
The restart of the programme, however, is subject to approval by Congress. Republican and Democratic aides for the Senate and House of Representatives committees with jurisdiction over the process did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
IMET affords spaces to foreign military officers at US military education institutions, such as the US Army War College and the US Naval War College.
Pakistan’s suspension from the programme in August 2018 prompted the cancellation of 66 slots set aside that year for Pakistani military officers in one of the first known impacts of Trump’s decision to halt security assistance.
The US military traditionally has sought to shield such educational programmes from political tensions, arguing that the ties built by bringing foreign military officers to the United States pay long-term dividends.