Pakistan has pledged to grant more than three dozen visas to CIA officers as part of confidence-building measures following the US raid in which al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and humiliated Pakistan, officials from both countries said on Wednesday, but the visas have not yet been issued.
An Associated Press report says that the visas are part of an agreement to rebuild counterterrorism efforts by forming what Pakistani officials call a joint intelligence team, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
The agreement was reached after talks in Islamabad between ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha and CIA officials, including Leon Panetta, the officials said.
The visas will help replenish CIA staff on the ground, as some staffers were forced to leave when their visas were not renewed in the aftermath of the controversy over CIA contractor Raymond Davis, the US official said.
There will also be some additional officers allowed in to join the joint intelligence effort to hunt high value al Qaeda targets, the official added.
Despite promises from Pakistani officials, the visas have yet to be issued, officials from both sides said. The Pakistanis say it’s simply a matter of time but would not say when they would be given.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2011.
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