Pakistan tells US to halt drone attacks
Islamabad: Pakistan has demanded that the United States sharply cut the number of Central Intelligence Agency operatives and Special Operations forces working in the Asian nation, and that it suspend the CIA drone campaign aimed at militants in the country’s tribal region.
In all, about 335 US personnel were being asked to leave the country, The New York Times quoted a Pakistani official closely involved in the decision, as saying.
The cuts demanded by Pakistan amounted to 25 to 40 per cent of United States Special Operations forces and CIA contractors present in the country, said Pakistani and American officials.
They revealed on the condition of anonymity that Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had personally demanded the reductions, the report said.
The scale of the Pakistani demands emerged as Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha had nearly four hours of meetings in Washington on Monday with CIA Director Leon E. Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen.
“Kayani would like the drones stopped,” said another Pakistani official, who met with the military chief recently, adding, “He believes they are used too frequently as a weapon of choice, rather than as a strategic weapon.”
Pakistani and American officials said in interviews that the demand that the US scale back its presence was the immediate fallout from the arrest of CIA security officer Raymond Davis in Lahore, who killed two men in January during what he said was an attempt to rob him.
In addition to the withdrawal of all CIA contractors, another category of US intelligence agents- declared operatives whose purpose was not clear- were also being asked to leave, a Pakistani official said.
In a sign of the severity of the breach between the US and Pakistani spy agencies, the official said: “We’re telling the Americans: You have to trust the ISI or you don’t. There is nothing in between.”
Meanwhile, a CIA spokesman, George Little, called the meetings “productive” and said the relationship between the two services “remains on solid footing.”
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