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‘US puts CIA drone strikes in Pak on hold’

Last Updated: Saturday, December 24, 2011 - 16:19

Washington: The CIA has suspended drone
attacks inside Pakistan in a bid to normalise ties with it,
which has further nosedived after a NATO cross-border raid in
which 24 of its soldiers were killed, US officials have said.

There has been an undeclared halt in cross-border
attacks, which enters its sixth week now.

The CIA has suspended drone missile strikes on gatherings
of low-ranking militants believed to be involved in cross-
border attacks on US troops or facilities in Afghanistan,
current and former American officials were quoted as saying by
Los Angeles Times.

With Army being of the view that the attacks so far have
proved to be counter-productive and have resulted more in
civilian casualties, the Obama administration is under
pressure to cut back the paramilitary role of the agency, the
Los Angeles Times report said, adding that officials are now
insisting Pentagon`s Joint Special Operations Command to be
given the primary role in the mission.

The CIA keeps a list of 20 top targets and "there have
been times where they`ve struggled a little bit coming up with
names to fill that list," a former senior US intelligence
official, who declined to be identified was quoted in the
report as saying.

"A lot of people wonder whether we can keep trying to
kill our way out of this problem," the official said adding
that "there are people who are really questioning, `Where does
all of this end?"

Number of drone strikes in Pakistan has increased
dramatically during the Obama administration, with most of
them targeting the known al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. Under
Obama, the agency expanded the drone war to target anyone in
Pakistan`s tribal areas it considers a potential threat.

The agency has killed dozens of Al Qaeda operatives and
hundreds of low-ranking fighters there since the first
Predator strike in 2004, but the program has infuriated many
Pakistanis. This year, it targetted the Haqqani network
allegedly involved in attacks on the US Embassy and NATO
headquarters in Kabul, the report said.

The strikes have been a serious issue of contention
between both the countries with Pakistan terming it a
violation of its national sovereignty and seeking a say in the
targets apart from a degree of control over the CIA missions,
all refused by the US, the media report said, quoting a senior
Pakistani defence official in Washington.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, December 24, 2011 - 16:19

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