Pakistan rejected US offer of concessions on drone attacks




In a bid to save the CIA’s drone campaign against al Qaeda in Pakistan, US officials offered key concessions to Pakistan’s spy chief that included advance notice and limits on the types of targets. But the offers were flatly rejected, leaving Pak-US relations strained as US President Barack Obama met Pakistan’s prime minister.

CIA Director David Petraeus, who met Pakistan’s then spy chief, Lt Gen (r) Ahmed Shuja Pasha at a meeting in London in January, offered to give Pakistan advance notice of CIA drone strikes against targets on its territory in a bid to keep Pakistan from blocking the strikes — arguably one of the most potent US tools against al Qaeda. 

The CIA chief also offered to apply new limits on the types of targets hit, said a senior US intelligence official briefed on the meetings. No longer would large groups of armed men rate near-automatic action, as they had in the past — one of the so-called “signature” strikes, where CIA targeters deemed certain groups and behaviour as clearly indicative of militant activity. 

Pasha, during his tenure as the ISI chief, said that Pakistan’s intelligence service would no longer participate in joint raids with US counter-terrorist teams inside its country, as it had in the past. Instead, Pakistan would demand that the US hand over the intelligence, so its forces could pursue targets on their own in urban areas, or send the Pakistan Army or jets to attack the targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, explained a senior Pakistani official.

Pasha’s pronouncements were in line with parliament’s demands issued last week that included ceasing all US drone strikes as part of what Pakistani politicians call a “total reset” in its relationship. Pakistan’s parliament last week demanded cessation of all unilateral US actions, including the drone strikes.

Other US officials said no such concessions were offered to Pasha, and insisted US counter-terrorism actions continued as before.

US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, travelling with Obama in South Korea, said the administration was in constant contact with Pakistan about counter terrorism and said reports of strain between the two sides “did not represent the ongoing nature of the dialogue with Pakistanis”. 

President Asif Ali Zardari met US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Mark Grossman in Tajikistan this week, and Central Command Chief Gen James Mattis is scheduled to visit Pakistan in April.

A personality change at the top of the ISI was another wrinkle, with Pasha now replaced by Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam officially last week, a senior US official said. While Islam has spent time studying at US military institutions, and once served as deputy to the ISI chief, he is a mostly unknown quantity to US officials. The staff change was not anticipated when the January Pasha-Petraeus meeting took place, both US and Pakistani officials said.

The strikes have markedly slowed to only 10 strikes in the opening months of this year, with the last in mid-March, Roggio said. That puts the programme on pace for a total of 40-50 strikes for the year, less than the year before.

In his opening salvo to keep the programme going, Petraeus offered to give his Pakistani counterpart advance notice of the strikes, as had been the practice under the Bush administration, which launched far fewer strikes overall against terrorist targets.

The US had stopped giving the Pakistanis advance notice, after multiple incidents of targets escaping, multiple senior US counter-terrorist officials said. US intelligence intercepts showed Pakistani officials alerted local tribal leaders of impending action on their territory, and those leaders oftentimes in turn alerted the terrorists. 

Pakistan’s military wants to go back to the “Reagan rules — the way the CIA operated with the ISI against the Soviets” inside Afghanistan, says former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, of the Brookings Institute. 

“We cannot trust the ISI to fight this war for us,” after finding bin Laden in a Pakistani military town, “showing the ISI was either clueless or complicit”, Riedel said. ap

Get our updates FREE

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pakistan rejected US offer of concessions on drone attacks



In a bid to save the CIA’s drone campaign against al Qaeda in Pakistan, US officials offered key concessions to Pakistan’s spy chief that included advance notice and limits on the types of targets. But the offers were flatly rejected, leaving Pak-US relations strained as US President Barack Obama met Pakistan’s prime minister.

CIA Director David Petraeus, who met Pakistan’s then spy chief, Lt Gen (r) Ahmed Shuja Pasha at a meeting in London in January, offered to give Pakistan advance notice of CIA drone strikes against targets on its territory in a bid to keep Pakistan from blocking the strikes — arguably one of the most potent US tools against al Qaeda. 

The CIA chief also offered to apply new limits on the types of targets hit, said a senior US intelligence official briefed on the meetings. No longer would large groups of armed men rate near-automatic action, as they had in the past — one of the so-called “signature” strikes, where CIA targeters deemed certain groups and behaviour as clearly indicative of militant activity. 

Pasha, during his tenure as the ISI chief, said that Pakistan’s intelligence service would no longer participate in joint raids with US counter-terrorist teams inside its country, as it had in the past. Instead, Pakistan would demand that the US hand over the intelligence, so its forces could pursue targets on their own in urban areas, or send the Pakistan Army or jets to attack the targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, explained a senior Pakistani official.

Pasha’s pronouncements were in line with parliament’s demands issued last week that included ceasing all US drone strikes as part of what Pakistani politicians call a “total reset” in its relationship. Pakistan’s parliament last week demanded cessation of all unilateral US actions, including the drone strikes.

Other US officials said no such concessions were offered to Pasha, and insisted US counter-terrorism actions continued as before.

US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, travelling with Obama in South Korea, said the administration was in constant contact with Pakistan about counter terrorism and said reports of strain between the two sides “did not represent the ongoing nature of the dialogue with Pakistanis”. 

President Asif Ali Zardari met US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Mark Grossman in Tajikistan this week, and Central Command Chief Gen James Mattis is scheduled to visit Pakistan in April.

A personality change at the top of the ISI was another wrinkle, with Pasha now replaced by Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam officially last week, a senior US official said. While Islam has spent time studying at US military institutions, and once served as deputy to the ISI chief, he is a mostly unknown quantity to US officials. The staff change was not anticipated when the January Pasha-Petraeus meeting took place, both US and Pakistani officials said.

The strikes have markedly slowed to only 10 strikes in the opening months of this year, with the last in mid-March, Roggio said. That puts the programme on pace for a total of 40-50 strikes for the year, less than the year before.

In his opening salvo to keep the programme going, Petraeus offered to give his Pakistani counterpart advance notice of the strikes, as had been the practice under the Bush administration, which launched far fewer strikes overall against terrorist targets.

The US had stopped giving the Pakistanis advance notice, after multiple incidents of targets escaping, multiple senior US counter-terrorist officials said. US intelligence intercepts showed Pakistani officials alerted local tribal leaders of impending action on their territory, and those leaders oftentimes in turn alerted the terrorists. 

Pakistan’s military wants to go back to the “Reagan rules — the way the CIA operated with the ISI against the Soviets” inside Afghanistan, says former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, of the Brookings Institute. 

“We cannot trust the ISI to fight this war for us,” after finding bin Laden in a Pakistani military town, “showing the ISI was either clueless or complicit”, Riedel said. ap

No comments:

Post a Comment

back to top