Negotiating with the US: Pakistan offers new drone-use mechanism

Published: July 16, 2012

Both Pakistan and the US had coordinated initial drone attacks when the CIA first launched its campaign back in 2004. However the CIA later took a solo flight under the assumption that Pakistan is playing a double game. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

ISLAMABAD: With fissures in their bilateral ties quickly being healed, Pakistan has offered the US a new mechanism encompassing ‘surveillance’ of targeted operations against wanted militants as an alternative to drone strikes in the country’s tribal regions.

The plan, as crafted by Islamabad, involves both the identification of targets by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the tribal areas and swapping of information with the Pakistani security agencies. The latter will then deal with the situation accordingly, said officials familiar with the development.

“To ensure that Pakistan acts on the information provided by the CIA, the US can use any mechanism to monitor our operation on the ground,” revealed a senior figure of the country’s security establishment.

“They (US) can even use drones for this purpose,” the official explained. However, he clarified that no foreign boots on the ground would be allowed for surveillance.

The mechanism is currently figuring in behind-the-scene discussions between Pakistan and the US, he said.

The idea also seeks to dispel the growing perception in Washington that Islamabad is playing a ‘double game’ in the ‘war on terror’.

He disclosed that both sides had coordinated initial drone attacks when the CIA first launched its campaign back in 2004. Another official remarked that “the CIA later took a solo flight under the assumption that Pakistan is playing a double game”.

The official said Pakistan expects a breakthrough in its ongoing negotiations with the US on finding a ‘mutually acceptable’ alternative to the CIA-piloted drone campaign.

The optimism stems from the fact that until now, Pakistan had never offered the US any serious alternative to predator strikes.

The reason, the official cited, was a tacit understanding between Pakistan and the US to use pilotless drones in the rugged terrain along the Pak-Afghan border where key al Qaeda figures are believed to have found refuge.

Perhaps for the first time, officials also acknowledged that drone attacks eliminated several key militants who posed an equal threat to both Pakistan and the US.

In a candid admission, one official went to the extent of saying that collateral damage figures compiled by independent human rights organisations in the drone attacks were somewhat exaggerated.

However, the official said the government ‘had’ to oppose the drones campaign due to the widely-held public opinion that drones violate Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty and integrity.

“That is why we have offered this alternative to the US – because we (Pakistan) want to become part of the system rather than being isolated,” he maintained.

However, officials did not give any timeframe for a breakthrough on the stalemate over drones, which the US believes are critical to eliminating high-value targets associated with al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Given that it’s election year in the US, many experts are sceptical that the administration of US President Barack Obama would agree on any drastic changes in their drones’ campaign.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2012.

Reader Comments (34)

  • gp65
    Jul 16, 2012 - 4:02AM

    The proposal ins unclear. In one place it says CIA can find out targets and Pakistan will act on them. In another place it says ” “However, he clarified that no foreign boots on the ground would be allowed for surveillance.”

    So are CIA considered foreign boots or not? If CIA will find out targets, how will they do so without being in your country?

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  • Cautious
    Jul 16, 2012 - 4:24AM

    You hold the ISI out as a premier intelligence agency — yet you have to ask the American’s for intelligence about where the “bad guys” are in your own country. I suppose your definition of “premier” is different than most.

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  • Babloo
    Jul 16, 2012 - 4:45AM

    To test Pakistan compliance, US should give the information of Haqannis location to Pak army and then ask him to go and arrest him and then watch the drama unfold from the skies.

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  • Sky
    Jul 16, 2012 - 6:19AM

    It’s funny how the US uses drone for surveillance. Pakistan did not know and probably still does not know how the drones invade our space on daily places. I am not talking about tribal areas. Even in the settled areas like abbottabad US drones have been used for surveillance without any one knowing. Even our neighbour and less developed Iran was able to bring down the drone using cyber technology.

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  • H1N1
    Jul 16, 2012 - 6:23AM

    US tells us whom they are tracking. We will take ‘appropriate measures’. They can watch it.

    I am curious to see how many militants will be caught by the appropriate actions.

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  • SouthEastAsian
    Jul 16, 2012 - 6:24AM

    Not that old ploy again !! You know the saying “Fool me once…”. I hope the naive US commanders don’t fall for this idea again. It is obvious that the terrorists are hurting and Al-Qaeda leadership has been decimated by the drones. They will use their influence in Islamabad to try and earn themselves a reprieve. What is amazing is the amount of popular support in Pakistan for the terrorists !!

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  • H1N1
    Jul 16, 2012 - 6:24AM

    US tells us whom they are tracking. We will take ‘appropriate measures’. They can watch it.

    I am curious to see how many militants will be caught by the appropriate actions. Zero, perhaps?

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  • raja
    Jul 16, 2012 - 6:25AM

    Do what u want in a year time its pti time rules of law for all

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  • Selvam
    Jul 16, 2012 - 6:29AM

    “the US can use any mechanism to monitor our operation on the ground,” revealed a senior figure of the country’s security establishment.” “However, he clarified that no foreign boots on the ground would be allowed for surveillance.”

    Empty proposal. The US believes that PakMil warns the “good” Taliban for drone attacks and uses the US drones to punish “bad” Talibs while standing on the side line to do a politically favorable body count.Recommend

  • Jim
    Jul 16, 2012 - 6:42AM

    Pakistan can begin by acting on the terrorists in Aabpara.

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  • Truth Detector
    Jul 16, 2012 - 6:42AM

    @Babloo, ok sir. Anything else? :->

    BTW, posting comments on ET, is it your full-time job? Do u do anything else for living?

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  • Jul 16, 2012 - 8:06AM

    How about this. Drones and precision guided missiles that the US has is the best in the World. US finds them AND takes them out. Pakistan can provide targets of their choosing too.

    Americans must be real idiots to accept the proposal in its current form.

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  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    Jul 16, 2012 - 8:57AM

    @Truth Detector:
    Babloos comments have ring of truth and brings a different prespective to the ET. Its not important if he is doing full time or not as long as he is bringing something to the table. Some of his comments are memoable.

    In a way pakistan is acknowledging that bad guys are in town and they need foreign help as either they are incapable of or want to be back in the game. Why not get a clue from KSR and Bangladesh and start handing out bad guys to different countries and negotiate free oil or electricity from them in exchange for these non state actors who are roaming freely.

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  • KH
    Jul 16, 2012 - 9:06AM

    @gp65: What they meant was US will use drones to identify targets and then Pakistan will react on it. Read before making comments.

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  • anwar
    Jul 16, 2012 - 10:24AM

    Drones have a small window of opportunity and its closing fast. America will soon be at the receiving end of this technology.

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  • gp65
    Jul 16, 2012 - 10:38AM

    @KH: “@gp65: What they meant was US will use drones to identify targets and then Pakistan will react on it. Read before making comments.”
    Drones cannot be used to identify targets. Ground intelligence is needed to do that. Once identified, targets can be tracked via drones. I have read not just this article but many other articles related to drone and understand this much basic logistics. You are the one ta perhaps needs to read a little more.

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  • Ahmer Ali
    Jul 16, 2012 - 10:49AM

    Why can’t you convey the message to your worldly master USA in clear and open words that stop drones’ strikes on Pakistani tribal areas and make the stopping of drones’ strikes your top most priority in the agreement with US’ government to continue the NATO’s supply uninterrupted and continuously?????
    Now at least please stop beggary an slavery.

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  • anonymous
    Jul 16, 2012 - 11:11AM

    It would be an upheaval battle to get US to believe that Pakistan won’t play double-games. The US has perhaps learned a hard-way the Pakistani conflict-of-interest, and biased decision making to act selectively.

    Moreover, the quick action and effectiveness of drones can not be replicated by boots on the ground in that rugged terrain. Therefore, I think the drone-attacks shall continue, and sooner or later, we would read the familiar news.

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  • abc
    Jul 16, 2012 - 11:21AM

    Pakistan should make it clear to the US that territorial violation will not be acceptable. They must share the intelligence and if they have the actionable intelligence than Pakistan armed forces will make necessary steps to engage them. There is no alternative other than this and any misadventure will result into serious consequences.Miscreants coming from the afghan side must be dealt with the same response. Drones in any form are clear violation of internationals laws. Pakistan must install an active surveillance system at its west border.

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  • Polpot
    Jul 16, 2012 - 11:31AM

    @gp65: CIA may wear boots that keeps them afloat about 6 inches above the ground.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Viola…no boots on the ground!

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  • poleturtle
    Jul 16, 2012 - 11:48AM

    Firstly US does not care what the Pakistani’s think !! They are out to get those who are spreading terror in the World and from my point of view this is God’s work. I cannot understand Pakistan’s perpetual support of terrorists at all levels, despite the fact that their own men women and children are slaughtered continuously. Let not the world think of Pakistan as the only source of trouble in the whole world ! God help Pakistan then.

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  • Shah
    Jul 16, 2012 - 11:59AM

    @Sky:

    EXcuse me who told you IRAN is less development. Just because you saw CNN and BBC showing Iran has no technology.

    Secondly you technology is way old. Pakistan has the equipments which US threw away 30 years ago e.g is F16. so please…

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  • BlackJack
    Jul 16, 2012 - 11:59AM

    Personally I don’t think this is a bad idea to pilot the suggestion on a limited scale to assess if the Pakistanis have had a change of heart; once targets are located and conveyed to the Pakistanis, the drones can continue surveillance during the period to observe if the militants are making a quick getaway which indicates complicity from the Pak side. Should not take too long to figure out if the mechanism is working or not – and if not, the Americans can always revert to their existing operating procedure. However, even if the Pakistanis play fair, I am sceptical of the success rate due the time it would take to get ground forces to the location – and it is always easy for someone on the way to make a tip off.

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  • Shah
    Jul 16, 2012 - 12:01PM

    @SouthEastAsian:

    Yeah right Pakistan is always the bad one. We are bombed to stone age by the terrorists and the US but who cares. We are muslims and we should be responsible for every thing. In Burma thousands of muslims have been slaughered. NO NEWS FROM THE ANY BIG NEWS CHANNEL. BBC and CNN are silent as if muslim blood has no value at all.

    Please you are not invited to throw stupid comments here.

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  • Atta
    Jul 16, 2012 - 1:37PM

    This is a very well thought, calculated and timely made proposal, USA authorities cannot deny it for many reasons, although they’ll still try to negotiate,
    Lets see, there’s not much time to delay accepting this breakthrough proposal.

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  • Butt
    Jul 16, 2012 - 3:58PM

    ‘In a candid admission, one official went to the extent of saying that collateral damage figures compiled by independent human rights organisations in the drone attacks were somewhat exaggerated.’

    With one sentence, all innocents become non-innocents.

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  • Saad Shibli Asc
    Jul 16, 2012 - 4:35PM

    Pakistan is a USA uncostitutional and undeclear state therefore USA will do what think necessary for the safty of Pakistan. We pakistani daily killing hundrade persons and destroying millions rupees property. All high official and importan position i.e. speaker state bank governor interior minister fimance minister etc can not appoint with NOC of USA. therefore wait and see. Saad Shibli Asc

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  • gp65
    Jul 16, 2012 - 9:15PM

    @Ahmer Ali: “Why can’t you convey the message to your worldly master USA in clear and open words that stop drones’ strikes on Pakistani tribal areas and make the stopping of drones’ strikes your top most priority in the agreement with US’ government to continue the NATO’s supply uninterrupted and continuously?????”

    You can convey whatever you want. What is the leverage you have to make USA accept your requests? Even during the 7 months when the supply lines were closed and US really wanted them opened, it never agreed to stop drones. For any ‘agreement’ to hold both sides have to agree and US will not agree to unilateral stoppage of drones. Only way it will stop is if it can see actual ground action against Haqqanis by the Pakistani government.

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  • gp65
    Jul 16, 2012 - 9:31PM

    @Shah: ” BBC and CNN are silent as if muslim blood has no value at all.”

    BBC and CNN are not silent about Muslim blood being spilt in Syria but your media is very silent. What about that? Secondly what about concern for Ulghur Muslims in CHina?

    Oh and by the way the people your army killed and raped in 1971 were also Muslims.

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  • Khan jr
    Jul 16, 2012 - 10:05PM

    @Shah
    Thousands of Muslims have been slaughtered in Pakistan by Muslim extremists, hundreds of Muslims have been tortured, killed and their bodies dumped in Baluchistan by Muslim military forces. So let us first try and save our brother Muslims in Pakistan and not waste our time worrying about people being killed in foreign lands such as Burma, Syria, Yemen, etc – something which we can do little about in the first place.

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  • faraz
    Jul 17, 2012 - 6:30AM

    It is time now thar US nd Pakistan should build trust with eachother and form a joint strattegy against terrorists.Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Jul 17, 2012 - 10:27AM

    @gp65:”For any ‘agreement’ to hold both sides have to agree and US will not agree to unilateral stoppage of drones. Only way it will stop is if it can see actual ground action against Haqqanis by the Pakistani government.”
    Actually Haqqani network is created by USA itself and Haqqani network’s leader’s pic with a former US’ president Reagan is the evidence of it and please visit this link for the more exact details and facts in this regard “http://www.criticalppp.com/archives/58273″ and clear your confused mind about Haqqani network after reading the complete details.

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  • Jul 17, 2012 - 6:53PM

    Very admirable option Pakistan presented to the American command.

    No doubt, old mechanism has failed after increasing counter productive at large scale.

    Now it needs to change,it require some essential amendments.
    United States should consider it and declined to accept because he has failed in the war consisting on more than a decade.

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  • Student
    Sep 8, 2012 - 8:49PM

    I’m a student. I read that any big problem can be finished on the talking table. I thing there is a big misunderstanding between US and Pakistan. Actually Pakistani ISI and Army has ability to settle its problems.
    Pakistani Army know how to finish this problem. US should work but should face the reality that every country wants to make the world a peaceful place.
    I am afraid of America. America has killed thousands of Pakistani innocent and educated people. America wants to kill student who want to take part in the World Peaceful Mission.

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