ISI asks US to stop drone strikes

Published: May 22, 2011

Intelligence agencies set to define the parameters of anti-terror cooperation.

ISLAMABAD: 

ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha is reported to have asked the US to stop its drone strikes in Pakistan in a meeting between CIA deputy director Michael Morrell and senior ISI officials held in Islamabad on Saturday.

Pasha, who faced tremendous criticism after the May 2 Abbottabad raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, is reported to have taken a firm stance with the US on the drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

“We will be forced to respond if you do not come up with a strategy that stops the drone strikes,” Pasha is reported to have told Morrell.

The ISI chief also described the recent incursion by Nato helicopters into Pakistani airspace as a ‘shock’ for defence cooperation between the United States and Pakistan.

Later on Saturday, Morrell met with operational leaders of the ISI, as well as members of its recently set-up counter-terrorism division. Both sides are reported to have discussed a way forward that would involve the US stopping its drone strikes and expanding joint US-Pakistan operations against militants.

Relations between the CIA and the ISI were strained even before the May 2 unilateral US raid that killed Bin Laden, particularly since January. Earlier, a CIA operative shot and killed two Pakistani men in broad daylight in Lahore. The ISI was publicly embarrassed by the incident and has been pressuring the US to reveal the extent of CIA activities inside Pakistan.

Those demands were repeated on Saturday, with Pakistani officials asking the US to provide a list of names of people who are currently employed by the CIA or other US intelligence agencies. Controversially, the ISI has asked the CIA to name Pakistanis employed by US intelligence services as well.

In order to induce US cooperation, the ISI has threatened to restrict access for all US citizens in Pakistan, including asking existing US contractors to leave the country. In recent weeks, reports have emerged of US military and intelligence personnel, as well as contractors, leaving Pakistan. The ISI made it clear that none of those leaving would be allowed to return without explicit approval by Pakistani intelligence.

The government has also decided to introduce a system to store biometric information about US contractors visiting Pakistan in order to prevent unauthorised persons from entering the country.

Suspicions between the CIA and the ISI run both ways. The CIA deputy director asked about the status of the US helicopter wreckage from the May 2 raid that the Pakistani government has agreed to return to the US. Morrell also asked about the progress in determining who was involved in supporting and protecting Bin Laden in Abbottabad.

For their part, ISI officials demanded access to the information US forces obtained from Bin Laden’s compound as well as photographs and videos the US may have of the operation itself.

Despite the disagreements and mutual suspicion, sources familiar with the discussions say that progress was made on the negotiations and was made possible by cooler heads prevailing on both sides, who realised that preserving the CIA-ISI relationship was in the interest of both sides.

The two sides may sign a formal agreement over the particulars of their cooperation in the war against terrorism. Previous cooperation has relied on several informal, and sometimes unacknowledged, arrangements.

The CIA also discussed the safety of Nato supply convoys that travel through Pakistan to troops in Afghanistan.

Relations between the US and Pakistan seem to be on the mend after the back-to-back visits to Islamabad by US Senator John Kerry and the US Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan Mark Grossman.

The military statements on those visits, as well as the one by Morrell, have been brief.

No let-up in terrorism fight, FO says

Pakistan on Saturday renewed its commitment to the war against terrorism but steered clear of the “immediate steps” sought by the US to underscore Islamabad’s cooperation in the aftermath of the Abbottabad operation.

“As far as Pakistan is concerned, we will continue our fight against terrorism in accordance with our national interests and priorities. Obviously any steps taken in this regard would be in that context,” said Foreign Office spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua on Saturday.

A joint statement following US Senator John Kerry’s meetings with the civil and military leadership had stated, “Pakistan agreed to take several immediate steps to underscore its seriousness in renewing the full collaborative efforts with the United States”.

“Pakistan is fighting terrorism for its own sake. In undertaking this fight against terrorism, Pakistan will have to take its national interests and priorities into account. This is being recognised in the joint statement issued on Senator Kerry’s visit,” the spokeswoman added.

When asked to comment on US special envoy Marc Grossman’s remarks that there was no formal agreement between Pakistan and the US and that no guarantees have been issued on another Abbottabad-like incident, she said, “We are in the process of re-engaging with the US and the purpose is to get the terms of our engagement right.”

There are issues being taken up with the US while taking into account the discussions in Parliament and its unanimous resolution, she added.

She declined to comment on a question regarding Kerry’s statement on Pakistan’s four official teams were probing Osama bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad before he was killed in the US raid, saying that Senator Kerry can best respond to that question.

“The question has been adequately addressed by the parliament and the leadership,” she added. Janjua further stated that the independent commission to investigate the Abbottabad fiasco will be set up in light of the unanimous resolution adopted by Parliament.

To a question about the uninterrupted drone attacks in the tribal areas of the country, she stated that Pakistan has categorically conveyed to the US that the attacks were “definitely not acceptable”. “We need to move away from unilateral actions and towards cooperation, which serves the interest of countering terrorism,” she added.

The spokeswoman further said that a trilateral meeting of senior officials of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US will take place early next week in Kabul to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan. Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir will lead the Pakistani delegation, she added.

Referring to Pakistan’s engagements with different countries, she said that the “multi-track engagement is designed to safeguard our national interests and deepen consultations with key partners, all neighbours, major powers and global actors.” (with additional reporting from qamar zaman)

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (42)

  • Mirza
    May 22, 2011 - 9:33AM

    Too little too late. Have you first explained the CIA “presence of OBL in an army base in custom made fortress?”

    After the OBL’s killing and ISI’s promises to hunt the other big fishes, it can be humbly requested (for naive Pakistanis) to stop the drone attacks. If ISI and Pakistani army was not involved in drone attacks and was not providing the targets then why are they demanding now? What has changed?Recommend

  • faraz
    May 22, 2011 - 9:38AM

    A nice PR attempt. Everyone knows who is the main benificiary of Pak-US cooperation whether it Seato Cento, Afghan Jihad or War on TerrorRecommend

  • irfan
    May 22, 2011 - 10:18AM
  • May 22, 2011 - 10:29AM

    Why not Pasha ask Gillani and Zardari to ask Obama to stop the drone strikes.?Recommend

  • Chilli
    May 22, 2011 - 10:51AM

    Fooling the nation…Recommend

  • M.Akthar
    May 22, 2011 - 11:08AM

    Statement is for the consumption of Ghiarat Brigade who will Accept anything what Army & Imran/Mullahs says. Imran would not protest against GHQ since hes paid by ISI, and will only blame Political Parties for his vested interest. Also, imran will not hold dharna`s of Sovereignity against Terror Strikes, or stay of Terrorists in Pakistan from other countries. Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    May 22, 2011 - 11:15AM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.Much the best statement and very well said by ISI and in case of denying it ISI must stop and annihilate co-operation with CIA if any as soon as possible on priority basis without warning and giving deadline to USA because our corrupt,beggars and slaves democratic leaders have sold their own,Pakistan’s and Pakistani nation’s honor,grace,dignity,ego,sovereignty,integrity and self-respect.This is why they are requesting and appealing before USA to stop drone attacks.In this condition our leaders must support and back up the this ISI’s demand strongly and practically to stop USA from violating Pakistan’s and its nation’s sovereignty and integrrity instead of keeping silence.Recommend

  • May 22, 2011 - 11:42AM

    Pakistan needs to get its act together. Stop doing things that are misguided and beyond our scope. Honesty is indeed the best policy. I request all here to read my blog at http://www.beardsrus.wordpress.com (esp ‘Let Freedom Reign, Hold of the Past)
    Hopefully it will add to the debate.
    Thanks
    Ali
    http://www.beardsrus.wordpress.comlink textRecommend

  • sarmad ahsan
    May 22, 2011 - 11:47AM

    the drones are a blessing from allah,they help to remove the religious terrorists hiding in the tribal areas.our media as usual with its biased coverage just reports that so & so many people killed,what it doesn’t tell us is that so many terrorists were killed & that too a lot of foreign terrorists like the arabs,chechens,uzbeks & tajiks.

    the drones are doing the good work which our own govt. is too scared to do,so i say increase the number of drones & help us to get rid of the islamic fundamentalists that have been spreading islamic fundamentalism like a cancer throughout our society.Recommend

  • Arsalan
    May 22, 2011 - 12:18PM

    It is job of Federal Government to ask or tell US Government to stop drone attacks.

    President and PM should start working as per mandate given to them in elections.Recommend

  • May 22, 2011 - 12:29PM

    dramaRecommend

  • Feroz
    May 22, 2011 - 1:51PM

    Is Pakistan a military dictatorship or Democracy? How can a uniformed employee of Pakistan threaten any foreign Power bypassing the duly elected Government of Pakistan ? The PM instead of laying down policies and guidelines and passing instructions to the military is behaving like a lowly spokesman of ISI. May God save Pakistan ! Recommend

  • Explorer
    May 22, 2011 - 2:03PM

    Pasha’s credentials as patriot has zoomed past Kiyani’s, Gilani’s and Zardari’s.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    May 22, 2011 - 2:09PM

    AT least, Pakistan should also retaliate and make incursion into foreign territory. At least, one NATO or US helicopter has to be shot down and then can be claimed it as “mistake”. At least, Pakistan has to show one time to USA / NATO.Recommend

  • Explorer
    May 22, 2011 - 2:10PM

    Stop this megaphone diplomacy. It simply won’t work. Take over the Shamsi airbase, if you can!Recommend

  • Ahmer
    May 22, 2011 - 2:15PM

    The Drones are not as bad as they are portrayed in the media. They are incredibly accurate and are not responsible for the civilian deaths reported in the media. Moreover, if any women and children have been killed in this attack are those of terrorist leaders.
    This weapon is not used against Pakistani civilians but is more of a political weapon used by the sold out media and our corrupt politicians to brew anger against America to get their own support.
    Our Army has already told us how incapable they are when it comes to dealing with such strikes. Stopping this would mean another influx of terrorism in our cities and see our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers dying. Do we really need this? The only Sovereignty that has been violated is one from these Mullahs and these terrorists. Pakistanis are not terrorists but have been forced to be labelled one only because of a large foreign terrorist presence in these regions.
    I would like to hear the media and the politicians make brave statements about eradicating terrorism from the region and see what they are doing about it rather than criticize criticize and criticize.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    May 22, 2011 - 2:17PM

    At least one time Pakistan has to intrude in Afghanistan, or at least “by mistake” has to shoot down one NATA or US helicopter / Drone. At least 1 time.Recommend

  • mogan
    May 22, 2011 - 2:39PM

    i love my army and my isi chief/Recommend

  • V. C. Bhutani
    May 22, 2011 - 2:47PM

    I beg to urge for the consideration of all concerned with decision making in Pakistan that they should give some thought to the basic needs of a good relationship, whether between nations or individuals. Good relations are built on good behaviour on both sides. Pakistan has made no secret of its attitude towards India. Gen Kayani says that his strategy is unabashedly India-centric. Is it the general’s case that India is about to launch an invasion of Pakistan? That kind of an idea has not so much as entered the discourse on India-Pakistan relations in this country. Even then Gen Kayani wants to keep his forces in a state of preparedness to meet an Indian attack.
    Besides, it is a poorly kept secret that Pakistan regards bodies like Lashkar-i-Taiyyaba as “assets” whom it hopes to use against India after Allied troops leave the AfPak area. That kind of an attitude has only one name: using terror in pursuit of state policy. This is not likely to win Pakistan friends anywhere.
    Now, if some terrorists of whatever nationality are still in Pakistan, my question is why are they in Pakistan? Why doesn’t Pakistan take steps to apprehend them?
    If Pakistan’s own forces had taken steps to grab OBL, it would not have been necessary for US SEALs to undertake the Abbottabad operation.
    President Obama and Mrs Clinton have left no one in doubt that the US shall go after Al Qaeda terrorists wherever they may be. Nothing could have been more explicit.
    Hypothetically speaking, if US intelligence found that an important Al Qaeda figure was in Pakistan and US operatives proceeded to launch another Abbottabad-like operation, is it possible for Pakistan to stop them?
    Gen Pasha has spoken out of turn. He should have thought about what Pakistan can do and what Pakistan cannot do.
    V. C. Bhutani, vcbhutani@gmail.com, Delhi, India, May 22 2011, 1517 ISTRecommend

  • mahmood
    May 22, 2011 - 3:11PM

    Wait friends, let Kiyani repeat one more time; “we’ll not tolerate it next time”.Recommend

  • Salman Zafar
    May 22, 2011 - 3:14PM

    Its not the time for requesting or asking. The time is to act and enforce.
    Please don’t fool us again.Recommend

  • MAK
    May 22, 2011 - 3:22PM

    @Mirza: What has changed is that finally PK has realized that not only are PK and US goals different, US is willing and ready to act in its own interest to the deep detriment of PK. Deep detriment means different things to different people but to me it means deep fissures and insecurity within PK.
    Your sarcasm is juvenile.Recommend

  • mahmood
    May 22, 2011 - 3:33PM

    The USA has made it’s position clear — move your military into N Waristan and there will be no need for drones. If you want assistance in eradicating the militants they will provide whatever assistance is required including boots on the ground. Stopping the drone attacks is akin to giving sanctuary to terrorist – that maybe be OK with Pakistan – it’s not with the USA or the rest of the World.Recommend

  • May 22, 2011 - 3:40PM

    If the CIA stops the drone attacks, the expectation will be that Pakistan will become more aggressive in pursuing terrorists. Recommend

  • Sverige
    May 22, 2011 - 3:56PM

    @captainjohann:
    ask this to yourself!!! simply bcoz ISI is more powerful than govt.Recommend

  • Siraj Ahsan
    May 22, 2011 - 4:04PM

    @captainjohann:
    Because Pasha agreed with Obama to have the drone attacks and agreed with Al Qaeda to do what they want…Recommend

  • Aamer Khawaja
    May 22, 2011 - 4:18PM

    ISI, who caresRecommend

  • Barack Obama
    May 22, 2011 - 4:44PM

    I dare you, Pasha and Kayani to shoot down a drone. Pakistan will be toast. Next.Recommend

  • Barack Obama
    May 22, 2011 - 4:45PM

    @Ahmed:

    Go ahead, Make my day.Recommend

  • FactCheck
    May 22, 2011 - 4:56PM

    Yep, US is scared of Pasha’s command. National Security Team is meeting in the White House situation room in an emergency meeting called by President Obama.

    A spokes person, who do not identified since he is not authorized speak told our source that, President Obama will personally apologize to General Pasha and order Secretary Panetta to recall every single CIA agent in Pakistan forthwith. It is rumored that, Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen will also issue an apology. They assured, there will not be drone attacks in the future.

    President Obama is also going to announce increasing annual aid to Pakistan to $100 billion a year to counter Indian hegemony and expansion. It is also rumored that, US speed up withdrawal from Afghanistan and handover Afghanistan to Pakistan. President Obama also praised Zardari and Gilani for their leadership in bringing about the great administration and democratic institutions they created and noted that Afghanistan should follow the example. Recommend

  • Muhammad ali jadoon
    May 22, 2011 - 4:57PM

    Its all maladrama. Army,isi,politicians thy all think of us as imbeciled
    Thy thk can fool us now like thy usd to do in the past
    I dnt thnk thats goona happen now coz now v hve vibrant
    Media keeping us uptodate with every new developmnts.Recommend

  • Kazmis
    May 22, 2011 - 5:13PM

    ISI was mistreated by Americans by calling Incompetent in OBL operation, dealing with Rymond Davis, and now by calling President Obama that he will do it again like Abottabad Operation. Gen Pasha was to leave army on frustration but NOTE WITH CARE that Gen Pasha is retained and now he will prove that ISI is NOT-INCOMPETENTRecommend

  • Aamir
    May 22, 2011 - 5:57PM

    Drones are unmanned and there is no point of casualty of US army men, even then our army is unable to down a drone.Recommend

  • imran bhat
    May 22, 2011 - 9:06PM

    And Morrell says,”Yes Sir! we will do just that”, while winking back and touching his nose before leaving the room.Recommend

  • Aamer Khawaja
    May 23, 2011 - 12:37AM

    And Morrell burst in tears of laughterRecommend

  • san
    May 23, 2011 - 5:45AM

    ISI could you request US to drone all Madasara’s in Pakistan. Just pinpoint all Madasara and drone them, so can get rid of these islamist militants. Their lives are not worthy, as they are threat for Pakistan existance. Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 23, 2011 - 7:48AM

    You asked for it and our president Obama responded right away! In your face as long as you protect terrorists in your bunkers. Recommend

  • Akhtarrao
    May 23, 2011 - 8:15AM

    Action not words——- get ready to be suffered and response as honorable NATION, if you claim to be a nationRecommend

  • RizwanTKhan
    May 23, 2011 - 10:23AM

    Dont ask US, simply strike it down.Recommend

  • Sawan Shah
    May 23, 2011 - 12:15PM

    If i read in between lines… this news is,

    DO NOT ATTACK ALONE, LETS DO IT TOGETHER….

    And we all are on the other end…

    Take cares

    Allah HafizRecommend

  • Qasim
    May 23, 2011 - 2:57PM

    Ask as much as want but they would do what they want and rightly so. Going by the Naval base attack yesterday, we should be thanking them and asking them to “do more” to eliminate these barbarians. Recommend

  • Sarah
    May 23, 2011 - 3:55PM

    @Barrack Obama
    You will run like flies when we will shoot down one of your drones, we just need is a potent army cheif.Recommend

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