‘US puts CIA drone strikes in Pak on hold’



‘US puts CIA drone strikes in Pak on hold’ 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