US President Barack Obama has ordered a “sharp increase” in drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas in recent months, website Bloomberg quoted two officials on Saturday.
According to the report, the US officials said that they expect Pakistan to halt CIA operations in the country in retaliation to drone strikes. They predict that the solitary airbase being used for drone strikes will be shut down in the near future.
However, Pakistani national security officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to Bloomberg, claimed that all CIA officers working on the drone program had already been expelled from the country and the drones were now being launched from bases in Afghanistan.
The US officials were quoted as saying that Obama’s decision to increase drone attacks reflected the “mounting US frustration with Pakistan over a growing list of disputes”.
On Thursday, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta had stated that the United States was running out of patience with Pakistan.
He alleged that the country was being used as a safe haven by insurgents from neighbouring Afghanistan.
Pakistan, on Saturday, rejected Panetta’s statements and said that he was “oversimplifying some of the very complex issues we are dealing with in our efforts against extremism and terrorism”.
Three drone strikes in as many days on suspected militants killed 27 people this week in Pakistan.
To lodge its protest against the “illegal” drone attacks, Pakistan had summoned US Charge d’affairs Richard Hoagland to convey the government’s serious concern over the issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2012.