WASHINGTON: With bilateral ties plummeting and the container-bearing truck lines getting longer at Pakistan’s closed border with Afghanistan, the US had offered Pakistan concessions over its drone programme that spreads into Pakistan’s tribal regions, the Associated Press reported on Monday.
The report claimed that CIA Director David Petraeus, who met with then-ISI chief, Lt. Gen. 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.
The CIA chief also offered to subject the strikes to new limits on the types of targets hit, said a senior US intelligence official briefed on the meetings. Large groups of armed men men would no longer be deemed actionable — a “signature” strike categorisation where CIA targeters deemed certain groups and behaviour as clear militant activity.
Pasha, following the tone most recently set by the Pakistani parliament, refused. He maintained that Pakistan will no longer tolerate independent US action on its territory by CIA drones, two Pakistani officials said. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive negotiations.
Pasha went on to add that the days of joint raids with US counter-terrorist teams in Pakistani territory, which had become a regular feature, were over. Instead, US would provide their Pakistani counterparts the necessary intelligence, to pursue targets, explained a senior Pakistani official.
US had stopped giving Pakistan advance notices after multiple incidents of targets escaping, multiple senior US counter-terrorist officials said. Intelligence intercepts showed Pakistani officials alerting local tribal leaders of impending action on their territory, and those leaders often times in turn alerted the militants.
Petraeus said that he had raised the threshold level, with strikes requiring his consent more often than in the past, the US official said.
Defence analyst and former CIA officer, Bruce Riedel at the Brookings Institute said that Pakistan wanted to go back to the “Reagan rules — the way the CIA operated with the ISI against the Soviets .. We give them a big check, and they make every decision about how that is spent. Minimal American footprint in country, or involvement in actual fighting the bad guys.”
“We cannot trust the ISI to fight this war for us,” he said, that after finding bin Laden in a Pakistani military town, “showing the ISI was either clueless or complicit,” Riedel said.