PressTV & The Times of India & ABC News – 2011-04-13 21:27:37
Unsanctioned Drone Strikes Kill 6 in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD (April 13, 2011) — At least six people have been killed as two non-UN-sanctioned US drone strikes targeted Pakistan’s South Waziristan region. In the first attack, a US remote-controlled drone fired three missiles at a house in Angoor Adda village of the mountainous region on Wednesday. Shortly after, four missiles were set off at a vehicle and a motorcycle, Xinhua news agency reported.
The unsanctioned US drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas on the Afghan border have reached a new plateau.
The US conducted a record 124 drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan in 2010, more than double the number of predator strikes conducted in 2009. The assaults killed 1,184 people in 2010, compared to 2009’s death toll of 760 in 53 attacks, according to Pakistani The Nation newspaper.
Most of the attacks took place in the North Waziristan tribal area — a hotbed of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Though Washington at times has claimed it has an agreement with Islamabad about such attacks, Pakistani authorities insist there has never been such a deal and that they view the airstrikes as repeated violations of the country’s sovereignty.
The missile strikes have proven â€œcounterproductiveâ€ as large numbers of outraged residents of the border areas are beginning to support the militants, according to Pakistani officials.
“We believe that they are counter-productive and also a violation of our sovereignty,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said in early October 2010. “We hope that the US will revisit its policy,” he added.
In late November, Islamabad rejected a request by Washington to expand its drone missile campaign outside the tribal belt along the Afghan border. Basit said Pakistan would not allow the United States to carry out drone strikes in new areas.
Pakistan to US:
Cut CIA Ops, Halt Drone Raids
Chidanand Rajghatta / The Times of India
WASHINGTON (April 13, 2011) — Pakistan’s intelligence chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha left Washington DC abruptly after a 24-hour visit during which he reportedly conveyed to his American counterpart army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s demand that US withdraw scores of CIA and special operations forces in Pakistan and halt drone strikes.
The US response to the demands was not immediately spelt out, but a CIA spokesman said the two spy chiefs had a “productive” meeting and the relationship between the two agencies “remains on a solid footing”.
“The US and Pakistan share a wide range of mutual interests, and today’s exchange emphasized the need to continue to work closely together, including on our common fight against terrorist networks that threaten both countries,” the spokesman told wire services even as Pasha left the capital without any public engagement or word. He had earlier been expected to stay for three days and meet with other US interlocutors.
The quick visit came amid continuing tensions between the two countries over US actions to monitor and eliminate terrorists in Pakistan that led to the so-called Raymond Davis episode in which a CIA contractor shot dead two Pakistanis in broad daylight. From that moment on, Pakistan is reported to have virtually ceased intelligence cooperation with US in a sign of protest.
According to accounts in the US media, Pakistan has demanded that the US withdraw about 335 American personnel, including CIA officers, contractors and special operations forces. It also wanted Pakistan to be taken on board on all CIA operations in Pakistan and a complete halt to drone strikes.
But some US officials said Pasha had made no demands or given no ultimatums, revealing the Pakistani proclivity to protest US actions publicly while acquiescing to them in private. While the US remains largely reliant on Pakistan for its Afghan operations, Pakistan is no less dependent on Washington for its survival.
In fact, Pakistan’s finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh is scheduled to arrive in Washington DC on Tuesday for talks aimed at rescuing the country from its parlous economic straits, even as ISI chief Pasha returned to Rawalpindi.
Pasha’s Washington sortie came amid startling legal developments in an Illinois court. A Canadian citizen accused of providing material support to Pakistani terrorists who attacked Mumbai said he did so at the behest of the Pakistani government and the ISI, and was therefore entitled to the legal equivalent of diplomatic immunity.
Despite US-Pakistan Tensions Aired at CIA HQ,
CIA Drone Strikes Will Continue, Officials Say
Jake Tapper and Nick Schifrin / ABC News
WASHINGTON and ISLAMABAD (April 12, 2011) — In a meeting with CIA director Leon Panetta on Monday, the head of Pakistanâ€™s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt. Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, expressed concern about the nature of drone activity operations, sources tell ABC News.
But despite that concern, the drone attacks will continue, US sources say.
“Panetta has an obligation to protect this country and heâ€™s not going to halt any operations that accomplish that objective,” a US official tells ABC News.
Panetta and Pasha met in Panetta’s office at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, for two hours and 25 minutes, after which Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen joined them for lunch in an adjacent dining room.
In their meeting sources say, Panetta and Pasha worked through a number of issues regarding joint operations and working together against terrorist targets.
The relationship between the US and Pakistan has been strained in recent months. The CIA’s predator drone program has slowed, launching 10 strikes in Pakistanâ€™s tribal areas in the last two and a half months, since CIA contractor Ray Davis was imprisoned after killing two Pakistanis — the same number of drone strikes as in just the last two weeks of 2010.
Sources say that Pakistan’s government has knowledge of drone operations, with Pakistani government and military officials informed essentially as targets are fired upon or shortly thereafter.
US officials say there haven’t been civilian casualties from the drone operations since at least last August. But this is in dispute, and some Pakistani officials regularly complain that the strikes hit civilians. But thanks in part to better intelligence and smaller missiles, according to Western officials and analysts, the drone program is much more accurate than it was when it began almost 7 years ago.
Some US officials believe that within Pakistan, the ISI is hyping the rift in order to score political points. These officials say a recent story suggesting that all cooperation between the agencies stopped was overwritten — and a leak designed to convince an increasingly anti-American Pakistani public that the ISI was showing the CIA who’s boss, so to speak.
Sources say Pasha didnâ€™t “scold” the US, as some have depicted it, though he did elaborate on how the Davis case has become such a hot button issue in Pakistan, something the US already knew. Pakistani officials believe the case increased public anger at the United States, which reduces the ISI’s ability to work with the CIA.
Sources also say that Pasha didn’t push back when Panetta said the US needs to have operatives in country to provide security. Pasha knows and wants US intelligence officers there; the US and ISI work together. Davis was providing security to a team of intelligence officials when he killed the Pakistanis, who according to four Pakistani officials were working for the ISI at the time.
ISI officials are especially concerned that American operatives are investigating militant groups with whom the ISI has long had ties, including Lashkar-e-Taiba.
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