Pakistan is shutting down three US military intelligence liaison centers in Quetta and Peshawar, in a setback to American efforts to eliminate terror sanctuaries in lawless areas bordering Afghanistan, a media report said on Friday.
The move to close the three facilities, plus a recent written demand by Pakistan to reduce the number of US military personnel in the country, signals mounting anger in the country over a series of incidents, including the killing of Osama bin Laden, without taking Islamabad into confidence.
The liaison centers, also known as intelligence fusion cells, in Quetta and Peshawar are the main conduits for the US to share satellite imagery, target data and other intelligence with Pakistani ground forces conducting operations against Taliban fighters, the Los Angeles Times said.
US special operations units have relied on the three facilities, two in Peshawar and one in Quetta, to help coordinate operations on both sides of the border, unnamed senior US officials were quoted as saying by the daily.
The US units are now being withdrawn from all three sites, the officials said, and the centers are being shut down. It wasn't immediately clear whether the steps are permanent.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, flew on Thursday to Pakistan for a hastily arranged meeting with General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the head of the Pakistani army. A Pentagon official said the two will probably discuss Pakistan's demands for a smaller US military presence, the daily said.