US won't abandon drone program in Pakistan: Officials

Published: April 20, 2011
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US officials privately say that Washington will not consider demands by Pakistani officials to cut drone attacks. PHOTO: FILE

US officials privately say that Washington will not consider demands by Pakistani officials to cut drone attacks. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The United States will not abandon its drone program in Pakistan but how it goes forward is a matter for US and Pakistani intelligence and military officials to determine, a US official said on Wednesday.

“The program is something that we have said we go ahead on. The question is how. And that process is going to be something that’s going to be one of the main tasks that our intel and our military guys have,” the official said, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity.

In the wake of the Raymond Davis incident, some Pakistani officials have called for sharp cuts in drone attacks, an issue that was raised in talks last week in Washington between CIA Director Leon Panetta and Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

“I’ll pause from my normal optimism and say this is a tough one. This is a real tough one,” the official said.

“Because that has been so inflamed in the public that the ability of our intelligence and our military guys to get together and say ‘what’s our common ground here?’ is limited,” he added.

US officials have privately said in the past that Washington would not consider demands by some Pakistani officials for sharp cuts in drone attacks or suggestions the United States should return to a Bush-era policy limiting the strikes to “high-value” militant targets.

Some observers say Pakistan’s recent vitriol about CIA activities may be largely posturing a ploy to possibly extract more financial and military aid from the United States. But the issue of drones remains a sore point.

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Reader Comments (37)

  • Q
    Apr 20, 2011 - 8:48PM

    Next time, bring them down.Recommend

  • @ibmlove
    Apr 20, 2011 - 9:05PM

    Agencies should disclose the deal over Raymoned Davis to the public.

    Secondly our government should change the bottom-up policy to stop the drones.

    Pakistan should not help US to run away from Afghanistan. This is the last chance to divide US in many pieces.Recommend

  • Grace
    Apr 20, 2011 - 9:24PM

    If there has to be a Drone Program, it should be entirely under the control of the Pakistani military if it concerns Pakistani territory. The Pakistani Foreign Office must stress the nature of a genuine partnership by allowing Pakistan to deal with criminals on our side of the border. The ongoing drone attacks are only alienating the Pakistani public from the concept of US Pakistan partnership.Recommend

  • realize
    Apr 20, 2011 - 9:30PM

    I won’t, if I were them.Recommend

  • idonthatepaki
    Apr 20, 2011 - 9:46PM

    @Grace – And looking at our past record they will trust us with drones huh ?Recommend

  • the Truth
    Apr 20, 2011 - 9:52PM

    there is one simple and 100% effective way to end the drone attacks once and for all and to humiliate the US (if that is in fact our goal), the Pakistani people and the Government need to take the threat of religious extremism seriously. Attacks on religious and civilian sites in Pakistan are proof that these people are not our Islamic brethren. They hate Pakistani as much as Americans. By protecting Pakistani citizens and property, the military and Government can also rid themselves the drone attacks.Recommend

  • Apr 20, 2011 - 9:54PM

    Okay, who in their right mind thinks that America will stop the drone attacks?Recommend

  • usman
    Apr 20, 2011 - 10:06PM

    American government and CIA thinks they are going to get away with killing so many innocent people. there is no way they are gonna get out of this mess. they should have learned from what happened to the USSR. but i m afraid America and its NATO allies are more deeper in the hole than the USSR was. I think the Drones have to stop right away. Pakistani people need to wake up, u guys have forgotten your rights. Pakistani people need to stand up for their basic needs at least. Recommend

  • Cautious
    Apr 20, 2011 - 10:21PM

    Pakistan has made a decision that it will continue to use the Taliban as a weapon of strategic foreign policy – hence turning over large sections of your territory to the Taliban. The USA has decided that you are an unreliable ally and will ignore your pleas to stop the drone attacks. If relations deteriorate the USA may decide to put Pakistan on the list of terrorist supporters and allow India to utilize the missile defense shield effectively neutering Pakistan’s famous nuclear arsenal and changing the balance of power in the region.Recommend

  • Somdet
    Apr 20, 2011 - 10:25PM

    See pakistanis were always fearing and saying that “US will abandon” them once afganistan problem is finished, just like the last time after USSR was defeated.

    US has now listened to them – They promised “This time US will not abandon (the Drone program)”

    Pls dont abandon.Recommend

  • In God We Trust
    Apr 20, 2011 - 10:34PM

    We want to ensure that people who gave a tough time to Soviets must not give us the same!!!Recommend

  • curious1
    Apr 20, 2011 - 11:06PM

    Drone attacks are killing terrorists, don’t we want them to be killed? Either we are with terrorists or with USA. No wonder our credibility is zero and with low credibility Americans will be foolish to give us this technology and BTW Americans are not foolish, we are stupids.Recommend

  • Chilli
    Apr 20, 2011 - 11:07PM

    The biggest joke is that these drones are flying from Pakistan’s soil. Where is our Army?? the one eating major chunk of our taxes for protecting our borders. Our Army miserably failed in protecting common citizens. They should change their image of a Dollar Army.Recommend

  • John
    Apr 20, 2011 - 11:23PM

    Until PAK troops are in Waziristan, drones will be flying. It is foolish to think that US would stop drones.

    PAK military would also like the drones over the soldiers. PAK political opposition parties would make rallying cries against PPP government for political gains.

    This will continue until some sort of agreement is reached with Afg-PAK -US, in two years.

    Next US administration may be sympathetic, may be. Recommend

  • Mo
    Apr 20, 2011 - 11:26PM

    bring em down cummon pak armyRecommend

  • shehzad
    Apr 20, 2011 - 11:29PM

    hehehe pakistan officially client state of USRecommend

  • V S S Sarma
    Apr 21, 2011 - 12:27AM

    Who gives USA the right to kill innocent people of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq ? Where are the International Human Rights organisations, Amnesty International, Red Cross, United Nations, World Court at Hague, etc when innocents are being killed by drones in dozens ? What are the causes and consequences of collateral murders ? How many militants have they killed ? Why did they bomb and strafe Afghnistan in the first place ? Will Mullen mull over the questions and answer them ? As long as Pakistan is dependent on aid from USA, Americans will not care for Pakistani requests for stopping the drone attacks.

    It is time Pakistan takes firm stand against all kinds of militants. It is time the people and the Govt stand firm against foreign forces and attacks. It is time the intelligentsia unitedly warn the Mulla Military Alliance that enough is enough.

    Pakistan’s moment of reckoning is here, now.Recommend

  • parvez
    Apr 21, 2011 - 12:58AM

    This cannot happen without the express consent of the G.O.P. Recommend

  • Arslan
    Apr 21, 2011 - 1:03AM

    @curious1 : Meray ”’Pakistani”’ bhai, the great majority of the people are innocent civilians. You know that, as much as I know that, as much as the whole world know that.

    @Cautious: do what you say, and Bharat will gently receive a spicy nuclear dish straight in his head.Recommend

  • Grace
    Apr 21, 2011 - 1:05AM

    @idonthatepaki: It’s not a question of whether they trust us. It’s whether we should trust them. Look at how the West used Pakistan as a front line state to defeat the Soviet Union. Thousands of foreign fighters came to the nation and destablized the area. We effectively helped end the Cold War and reduced the global risk of World War 3 but then the West abandonned Pakistan. Moroever they continue to ignore the crime and terrorism supported by our neighbours, particularly India which is using Afghanistan as a proxy to send criminals to hurt citizens in Pakistan. The US needs to earn the trust of Pakistan in order for Pakistan’s support to root out the criminals in Afghanistan. These very criminals in the Taleban were created by the US to oust the Soviets. Pakistan does not need to earn anyone’s trust. The world owes Pakistan big time.Recommend

  • Pagal Mullah
    Apr 21, 2011 - 1:20AM

    @usman:
    lol! make up your mind. Are you threatening by saying that the NATO allies are in a hole and they will never get out of it. Or are you begging by asking people to wake up. Guess you just exhibit the true state of pakistan today. On one hand pakis keep giving hollow threats and on the other never leave a chance to start begging. Strange creatures these pakis are.Recommend

  • Canadian
    Apr 21, 2011 - 1:41AM

    India should work with US to get Drones, so that India can blowup Pakistani terrorists, this will quickly end the kashmir problem and South asia will grow and prosper – concerned canadianRecommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Apr 21, 2011 - 3:12AM

    @@ibmlove:
    LOL, thay have already divided you lot, for price of few billion dollars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Tell me what really works in the land of pure???? Recommend

  • Jawad
    Apr 21, 2011 - 3:13AM

    It’s the Money.
    USA is after Pakistan for money.
    USA has been after Afghanistan and Iraq for money.
    Pakistan is after money.

    The day Pakistan Government realize that Peace is more important than Money, perhaps than there’ll be a change from Pakistan’s side.

    But USA can never stop all this. It has been there for a reason which is not to get rid of terrorism. I can’t see how USA is doing a great Job by killing innocent children with drone missiles, hence becoming a Terrorists for those children who don’t have answer on why they were given this short life. USA should put their own sons and daughters in place before making decisions on drone strikes.

    Time will come when USA will have to answer all these problems to mother nature.

    Again War is not the answer, and the one who choose WAR is a TERRORISTRecommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Apr 21, 2011 - 3:14AM

    @Grace:
    Which world do you reside in???? Perhaps in fairy tales from childhood these things happen, but sadly not in real world!! So i suggeest you grow up and face reality around you!!Recommend

  • LOL
    Apr 21, 2011 - 3:18AM

    It’s a joke to think the US will end drone strikes. Why should the US do so? Billions of dollars of US aid have brought none of the US’s strategic goals to fruition.

    The Pakistani Army and ISI are shady, untrustworthy characters. They have misled the Pakistani people and everyone around the world.

    The US just wants to get “return on investment” for all the money it’s putting in. Since all the aid to the Army doesn’t do anything but allow the army to buy weapons to fight India (a lost cause BTW, Pakistani army isn’t going to defeat India’s army so why keep militarizing? The US won’t allow India to invade Pakistan so the Army’s “need to defend the Western Border” is just dumb), the US wants to take care of the problem itself.

    Pakistanis should be thankful the drones are taking out the garbage that their Army/ISI doesn’t have the guts to do. You should be celebrating in the streets every time one of these terrorists is killed but instead you just hate America. How dumb. Love the people who are saving your country because without them, Pakistan would be worse than Afghanistan.Recommend

  • Pakistani57
    Apr 21, 2011 - 4:08AM

    drones should be used for surveillance purposes only Recommend

  • Tahir
    Apr 21, 2011 - 4:26AM

    I will be joining Imran Khan over the weekend for the sit-in. We have the power to block NATO supply routes forever.Recommend

  • F Robinson
    Apr 21, 2011 - 4:33AM

    A top Pakistani military commander acknowledged a few weeks ago that the U.S drone strikes against militant hideouts have been an effective weapon in the anti-militancy fight. This only suggests that drone strikes should continue.Recommend

  • alpha gamma
    Apr 21, 2011 - 5:41AM

    @Cautious: ” If relations deteriorate the USA may decide to put Pakistan on the list of terrorist supporters and allow India to utilize the missile defense shield effectively neutering Pakistan’s famous nuclear arsenal and changing the balance of power in the region.”

    You are one classic example of a delusional Indian. keep dreaming lol Recommend

  • Mike
    Apr 21, 2011 - 6:34AM

    Are you tired of saying ‘innocent’ people getting killed? A Pak general was quoted saying that most of people killed were foreign terrorists.Recommend

  • kailash sethy
    Apr 21, 2011 - 6:39AM

    Just inacase one wants to know what world thinks about Muslims in general and Pakistan in particular

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110420/aponreas/aspakistanRecommend

  • Jupiter
    Apr 21, 2011 - 7:36AM

    Government is pro-US.
    Opposition is pro-US.
    Army is pro-US.
    Media is pro-US.
    Bureaucracy is pro-US.

    There is no civil way left for people to put forward their grievances.

    Sad truth is we fear US than we fear Allah.Recommend

  • Tara
    Apr 21, 2011 - 11:11AM

    Drone attack should start in cities like Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi. Leaders of all terrorist organizations are hiding in these cities. Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Apr 21, 2011 - 3:51PM

    @Tahir:
    Yes ! You have the power to block the supply route, but do you have any idea as to the consequences of such action???? This is not goodwill gesture on behalf of Pakistan, its paid handsomely for it, even though enroute quite a lot is stolen or vandalised in attacks !!!
    Instead just suffering High inflation and serious lack of energy resources !! your land of pure will be returned to stone age very fast !! Look around you and realise that the only reason this so called nation is surving is purely due to Uncle Sam’s Aid and other borrowings from IMF, WB etc………..
    Let alone repaying these loans , you lot have audacity to actually ask for more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Sadly it did not work this time as your finance team has returned empty handed !!!!Recommend

  • @ibmlove
    Apr 21, 2011 - 5:31PM

    @Hedgefunder
    Very smart, this is the end of the supremacy of US. As far as division concern world have seen at the time of earthquake. Actually you people can’t understand our faith, if you will seriously try, you will be known among us.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Apr 22, 2011 - 8:26PM

    The Gloves are off. Earlier US forces were denying they operate the Drones, now they are openly saying it.

    This points to late realization on the part of US that Pakistan is playing a dual role in selectively going after Terrorists that go after Pakistan but remaining mum, even supporting, Terrorists who go after India and the US.

    About time!Recommend

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