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US` intelligence fusion cells shutting down in Pak: Report

Last Updated: Friday, May 27, 2011 - 18:41

Washington: 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 from approximately 200, 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 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The US units are now being withdrawn from all three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.

The two intelligence centers in Peshawar were set up
in 2009, one with the Pakistani army`s 11th Corps and the
other with the paramilitary Frontier Corps, which are both
headquartered in the city, capital of the troubled
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

The third fusion cell was opened last year at the
Pakistani army`s 12th Corps headquarters in Quetta, a city
long used by Taliban fighters to mount attacks in
Afghanistan`s southern provinces.

The closures have effectively stopped the US training
of the Frontier Corps, a force that American officials had
hoped could help halt infiltration of Taliban and other
militants into Afghanistan, a senior US military officer said.

The closures, which have not been publicly announced,
remove US advisors from the front lines of the war against
militant groups in Pakistan.

US Army General David Petraeus spearheaded the effort
to increase the American presence in the border areas two
years ago out of frustration with Pakistan`s failure to
control the militants, it said.

The collapse of the effort will probably hinder the
Obama administration`s efforts to gradually push Pakistan
toward conducting ground operations against insurgent
strongholds in North Waziristan and elsewhere, US officials
said.

The Pakistani decision has not affected the CIA`s
ability to launch missiles from drone aircraft in northwest
Pakistan. Those flights, which the CIA has never publicly
acknowledged, receive assistance from Pakistan through
intelligence channels separate from the fusion centers,
current and former officials said.

PTI



First Published: Friday, May 27, 2011 - 18:41

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