Leaked report reveals Pakistan-US 'understanding' on drones

Published: July 9, 2013
al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden evaded detection for nearly a decade. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden evaded detection for nearly a decade. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reached an understanding with the United States on drone strikes targeting militants and the attacks can be useful, said the leaked remarks of a former intelligence chief.

Pakistan publicly condemns US missile attacks on Taliban and al Qaeda operatives as a violation of its sovereignty, but the new revelations are the latest sign of double-dealing in private.

They come in findings of a Pakistani investigation into how al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden evaded detection for nearly a decade, which were published by the Al-Jazeera news network Monday.

Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who headed Pakistan’s premier Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency at the time of bin Laden’s killing in 2011, told investigators that drone strikes had their uses.

“The DG (director general) said there were no written agreements. There was a political understanding,” the report said.

The Americans had been asked to stop drone strikes because they caused civilian casualties, but “it was easier to say no to them in the beginning, but ‘now it was more difficult’ to do so,” it quoted the former spymaster as saying.

“Admittedly the drone attacks had their utility, but they represented a breach of national sovereignty. They were legal according to American law but illegal according to international law,” the report quoted the ISI chief as saying.

He also confirmed that Shamsi air base, in southwestern Pakistan, had been used for US drone strikes against people in the country.

Pakistan ordered US personnel to leave the base after botched US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011.

His interviews also laid bare extraordinary levels of distrust between Pakistan and the United States, particularly in 2011 when relations plummeted over the US raid that killed bin Laden and a CIA contractor who shot dead two Pakistanis.

Pasha said US arrogance “knew no limits” and accused the Americans of waging “psychological warfare” over the whereabouts of Taliban leader Mullah Omar and bin Laden’s successor Ayman al-Zawahiri.

He quoted a US intelligence officer as saying “you are so cheap… we can buy you with a visa,” and said himself that systemic failures showed Pakistan was a “failing state”.

The Pakistani report condemned the US raid as an “American act of war” and said the military should have responded much more quickly to a three-hour operation, 100 miles inside its territory.

It was Pakistan’s “greatest humiliation” since East Pakistan seceded in 1971, it said.

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Reader Comments (52)

  • PTI Supporter
    Jul 9, 2013 - 5:37PM

    Its easy to criticize politicians…. ET punch the ‘LORDS’ where it matters the most!


  • ModiFied
    Jul 9, 2013 - 5:47PM

    “He quoted a US intelligence officer as saying “you are so cheap… we can buy you with a visa,”

    This statement tells it all. If this is the price Americans have to pay to recruit a Pakistani, they can remain sure of abundant supply.


  • kashif hameed
    Jul 9, 2013 - 5:48PM

    “You are so cheap… we can buy you with a visa,”

    Humiliated for every Pakistani!


  • bharatvarsh
    Jul 9, 2013 - 5:51PM

    So all the false bravado and chest thumping of pak military, political parties, state actors and non-state actors finally exposed.


  • pak pathan
    Jul 9, 2013 - 5:53PM

    you are so cheap…. we can buy you with a visa.

    this statement although sounds arrogant is just very true


  • sajjad
    Jul 9, 2013 - 5:56PM

    He quoted a US intelligence officer as saying “you are so cheap… we can buy you with a visa,” and said himself that systemic failures showed Pakistan was a “failing state”.
    i think the guy is right… isn’t he?


  • Uza Syed
    Jul 9, 2013 - 5:58PM

    Former DG of ISI General Pasha quoted a US intelligence officer as saying “you are so cheap… we can buy you with a visa,”—–ouch! —– yeah, it’s arrogant but really, honestly, sincerely a very very bitter and painfully harsh reality and who would know it better than them our best good friends the Americans. After all they paid for our upkeep all along in our history and, yes, granted most visas to us.


  • suhaib
    Jul 9, 2013 - 5:59PM

    i don’t understand why we’ve developed an army and spending a lot on it? They can’t detect/arrest/capture terrorists, they can’t provide us sense of security and they can’t defend our country and they so cheap, that US can buy them with a visa


  • Polpot
    Jul 9, 2013 - 6:06PM

    “It was Pakistan’s “greatest humiliation” since East Pakistan seceded in 1971, it said.”
    Two greatest humiliations and no one ever held resposnible.! Thats Pakistan.


  • balbal
    Jul 9, 2013 - 6:08PM

    Is’nt it true that if there is free offer of green card to Usa then most of us will go first in the queue to get it and will not care for Pakistan. We all know how life in usa is and how pakistan gives us miserable life..


  • Polpot
    Jul 9, 2013 - 6:09PM

    “Buy a Pakistani and get a US Visa”
    Where can I apply under this new scheme?
    ( Before the lines become unending)


  • Kazim Muneer
    Jul 9, 2013 - 6:11PM

    The Statement, “you are so cheap…. we can buy you with a visa.”, also suggest how vulnerable the rulers of Pakistan are. This is characteristic of someone with no spine, values and courage. A thesis can be written merely on this statement vis-a-vis ruling class of Pakistan (1947 to date). So unfortunate, so tragic, yet no ruling class member is ashamed (quite understandable as weak always require support of the strong, i.e., Uncle Sam in this case!!).


  • jibran
    Jul 9, 2013 - 6:12PM

    You didn’t feel humiliation:
    1. when you fed your men to take over kashmir via kargil
    2. when you gave visas to the most notorious terrorist
    3. when 50,000 of your people, men, women, and children were butchered in broad daylight
    4. When foreigners were beheaded

    And you feel humiliated:
    1. When the wanted terrorist meets justice
    2. When drones bring justice to the terrorist sanctuaries


  • imran
    Jul 9, 2013 - 6:15PM

    I guess the biggest humiliation to the army is the leaking of this report by PML-N.


  • Ather
    Jul 9, 2013 - 6:16PM

    Not every one is for sale Mr. CIA. I am sure you have met this type as well. If what you say applies for all of us then you would not be here isn’t it.


  • Paindoo
    Jul 9, 2013 - 6:17PM

    What a shame! Forget about protection of the sovereignty of Pakistan let our brave army work hard in ways of expanding DHA, FFC, NLC and list goes on.


  • notsocheappakistani
    Jul 9, 2013 - 6:24PM

    I wouldn’t sell myself for just a us visa. I need a citizenship as well only then I’ll sell myself or any other Pakistani.


  • quantum
    Jul 9, 2013 - 6:25PM


    Sir may I use your copy righted statement “Buy a Pakistani and get a US Visa” and use it in plain T- shirt and sell it for profit. I am willing to share 90% as royalty fees with you :) It is simply brilliant.


  • Usman
    Jul 9, 2013 - 6:44PM

    @Kazim Muneer:

    the officer isn’t referring to rulers of the country but the Zinda Qoum of Pakistan…. remember what families of Raymond’s victims and Dr. Afridi did….. the officer is still overpricing us since many people in pakistan sold their votes for “Biryani ki plate + Thandi Pepsi”


  • Ahmed
    Jul 9, 2013 - 6:55PM

    Two greatest humiliations due to incompetent army, add in Kargil for the hatrick. Doing well boys.


  • Polpot
    Jul 9, 2013 - 7:02PM

    Dear Moderator I noticed that u discarded my comment about the Pakistani High Commissoner to UK:)
    Quite subtly you reveal your limitations. My sympathies.


  • Polpot
    Jul 9, 2013 - 7:06PM

    @jibran: You didn’t feel humiliation:
    when you need chinese to build roads and bus systems
    you need chinese to reduce line losses
    you need chinese to eradicate polio
    and on and on.


  • ih
    Jul 9, 2013 - 7:14PM

    Most expected report to be a whitewash.It turns out to be brutally honest scathing self assessment Should be required reading for all civil and military officers. “but there is no reading culture in general and in particular among ministers. Incompetence from top to bottom. Relative ease with which Pakistani,s accepts bribes but if you read history this is not new Clive used it with devastating effectiveness in 19th century. Truth is Pakistan has become a failing state that even ISI chief admitted. Only hope may be honest people like those sitting on this commission. But will it have any results or go the way of Hamud report.I have been Physician for four decades. We as as physician should be ashamed of Dr Afridi running a fake polio vaccination program. I can imagine if any physician did this in usa what type punishment will be given . An indian author recently commented may be indians have a corrupt gene? May be it is more widespread.


  • Avtar
    Jul 9, 2013 - 7:20PM

    The key word is “political” understanding – who defines it in Pakistan. ISI officials can also get away with it. As far as cheap, not only politicians,even the terrorists and most vocal opponents of the USA has visa for their children and relatives. Note: Pretty soon, if they have not already done, families of the elites are heading to the UK, USA and Dubai for holidays.


  • AA Salim
    Jul 9, 2013 - 7:46PM

    There is nothing wrong in saying: You are so cheap……. its the Truth! Our people have to realise this and make strong.


  • Polpot
    Jul 9, 2013 - 7:47PM

    “He also confirmed that Shamsi air base, in southwestern Pakistan, had been used for US drone strikes against people in the country.”
    So who who had authorised the use of this airport by US? Will we ever know?:)


  • Polpot
    Jul 9, 2013 - 7:49PM

    “that systemic failures showed Pakistan was a “failing state”.”
    I disagee.
    To the use of the present continuos tense.


  • gp65
    Jul 9, 2013 - 7:58PM

    “It was Pakistan’s “greatest humiliation” since East Pakistan seceded in 1971, it said.”

    – What about the fact that Siachen which you (falsely claim as your own) is occupied by India and despite 3 attempts to do so you could not reclaim it?
    – What about Kargill where you sent your soldiers dressed up as irregulars and did not even accept their dead bodies for burial?
    – What about the fact that you had to declare unilateral ceasefire and run in Kargill even as India continued to bomb your soldiers to clear every inch of its land?
    – What about handing over Pakistani citizens to US without trial in return for bounty money and actually proudly writing about it in autobiography?
    – What about the fact that the world’s most wanted terrorist was living in Abbotabad for 6 years?
    – What about the fact that your soldiers kept getting punded for 2 hours at Salala but not a single airforce plane flew to defend them and provide them air cover?Recommend

  • Shan
    Jul 9, 2013 - 8:00PM

    Huge insult for pakistan as if any body can buy pakistan for few bugs..


  • hamza khan
    Jul 9, 2013 - 8:16PM


    kargil was a humiliation? really? is that why the indians were running around with their tails between their legs? my feeling is that this was a humiiation of utter proportions for indians that the pakistani political leadership handed a victory over to them on a plate. pakistan was in a commanding military position. the facts are the facts. go research yourself.


  • Zubaida
    Jul 9, 2013 - 8:30PM

    Shameful but true.
    If nature has its way, it would take hundreds of years for a people in a region to coalesce into a “nation”. Unfortunately, it will take about the same time for artificially grafted nations like Pakistan. Religion HAS NEVER been a reason for the formation of a country in the history of mankind. Pakistan is a one-of-a-kind experiment. Only history will tell if the experiment worked.


  • Babloo
    Jul 9, 2013 - 8:47PM

    Since Pakistan now depends on China from roads to electricity , should not the population of Pakistan hold China directly responsible for all the problems ?


  • mahmood
    Jul 9, 2013 - 8:49PM

    Pasha quoted as saying Pakistan is a “failing state”. Yes, that’s what happens when Generals in any country become the most powerful political force. Give credit to Pakistanis’ resilience that you and your ilk have not completely washed the country down the drain yet.


  • Dr A.K.Tewari
    Jul 9, 2013 - 9:15PM

    @ Polpot , Your, E- missile seems to piercing the target . Well said . Keep it up .


  • vinoth
    Jul 9, 2013 - 9:20PM

    I feel very bad for all pakistani friends, the inability of the government affect you very much, which i can see very much from the comments, its better for the government to kick filthy Americans out your nation since they are like cancer that spreads and spoils every bit good present.


  • king
    Jul 9, 2013 - 10:15PM

    shame on all us for wasting an opportunity to elect IK,the most dominant and trusted figure in the world.You must had seen the reply from IK if he were the PM,again shame on us for wasting an opportunity


  • Strategic Asset
    Jul 9, 2013 - 10:42PM

    ET has not quoted the complete line from the Abbotabad Commission’s report. The actual line is:
    US spy to ISI chief: “You are so cheap … we can buy you with a visa, with a visit to the US, even with a dinner.”


  • Jul 9, 2013 - 10:48PM

    No, I will never accept to do anything for US for a Visa, but Green Card is ok.


  • Jamshed
    Jul 10, 2013 - 1:49AM

    “military should have responded much more quickly to a three-hour operation, 100 miles inside its territory”

    3 hour operation? Sounds of helicopters, some falling down, catching fire, explosions and military got there “after an hour” of the US forces leaving. So the Pak Army got there 4 hours after the operation began. Now, that is unbelievable. So close to military academy, lights out in the neighborhood, flames from burning helicopter lighting up the night sky and Pakistan army got there after 4 hours? That can ONLY mean one thing. They were aiding the US forces in getting OBL.

    I actually don’t mind that US forces came for OBL. He needed to get off Pakistani soil as he was living there illegally. He had no visa. Sorry, no Iqama, no stay in Pakistan. The thing that bothers me is why wont our military and government, ISI admit that they were involved in catching him? Surely, medals should be distributed for catching a dangerous criminal living illegally in Pakistan.

    For people who disagree with me, please talk to Pakistanis who have been treated VERY badly for not having proper work documents in Saudi Arabia. I believe nobody treats animals like the Saudis treat Pakistanis. If anything, it is Pakistani labour, along with Indian, Sri Lankan, Bengali labour who have worked hard in the sun to build their countries and do jobs that they never would and still they get treated badly.


  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Jul 10, 2013 - 2:18AM

    LOL, You are nuts.


  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Jul 10, 2013 - 2:23AM

    your article is a soul searching article. Thank you.


  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Jul 10, 2013 - 2:30AM

    I tell you who authorized the Shami and Jacobabad Air Force Bases to the Americans, that guy is sitting cooling his heals in his posh residence in Islamabad and no where to go. I hope they throw the book at him and make an example for other Bonaparte waiting in the wings. Mush thought he is above the constitution and the law of the land.


  • Sandip
    Jul 10, 2013 - 3:05AM

    @hamza khan: Still dreaming? :). When will the likes of you wake up to reality?


  • Polpot
    Jul 10, 2013 - 7:37AM

    @Strategic Asset: “You are so cheap … we can buy you with a visa, with a visit to the US, even with a dinner.”
    I must qualify…in my case it depends on the menu for the dinner.
    A simple burger just wouldnt do.


  • 10 rupay k 12 visay
    Jul 11, 2013 - 12:32AM

    “well that’s the bitter truth”


  • gp65
    Jul 11, 2013 - 1:49AM

    @hamza khan: “kargil was a humiliation? really? is that why the indians were running around with their tails between their legs?”

    Did Indian PM run to US to get India extricated? Did Indian COAS run to China to get India extricated? Did India refuse to accept its dead soldier back? Did India declare unilateral ceasefire? No, no, no and no. Use internet to get some real facts – not just what they teach you at the madrassa,Recommend

  • Umar
    Jul 11, 2013 - 2:18AM

    Economic migration happens everywhere and whenever there is an economic disparity, people migrate to the place with better economics. Insensitive and uncultured statements of someone powerful, who believe he knows all, does reflect only his own ignorance.

    Nations make mistakes. We have made mistakes and will continue to do in the future as well. But we are learning along the way. We have started owning up our mistakes and are building up on our experiences. Nations rise and fall. We are down at the moment but not out. We will rise soon.

    Those who think Pakistan is a failing state are building up this fantasy based on their preconceived, biased and possibly wishful notions. You need to stand on a road side in a Pakistani city or a town or a village to see the commerce, business, and the resilience of a nation. You need to stand by our fields and orchards to see the strength of our agriculture. You need to see the quality of our Universities and the quality of our Engineers, Doctors, professional and non-professional workforce to see that there is a lot that we are doing right. You need to see our industries, corporations, organizations to see that we are not failing. You need to see the discipline of our Army to see that we can move and fix things quickly.

    Off course, all above need improvement and we are improving unsteadily but we are still better than a lot others. Pakistan has some severe problems but it was never a failing state and never will be.


  • Insaan
    Jul 11, 2013 - 4:57AM

    How much bounty money Pakistan government has collected from these Drone strikes?


  • Liaqat
    Jul 11, 2013 - 9:32AM

    Pakistan’s Army is really good in doing business and protecting their personal stakes through immigration and foreign investment where security and defense are more sort of their fading responsibilities. They are building their residential schemes under the name of DHA, corporate enterprises under Fauji Foundation and nation wide infrastructure through FWO to takeover this country and put us in our place as tax paying slaves, the blood civilians – isn’t that what you call us the so called army under oath to protect the Nation.


  • shah
    Jul 11, 2013 - 12:21PM

    @ Liaqat

    So army officers dont have the right to live in a good housing society????. It is really cheap to criticize them with the label of DHA. Now its a fact that army gets 18% of total budget, this means that all the work done with in this limit is great success.

    This is a hard time for civilian govt to realize their duties and responsibility. Kindly improve your civil setup with good administration and discipline and come out of the inferiority complex of ‘bloody civilians’

    Improve your civil setup… its poor at the best !


  • Omer Khan
    Jul 11, 2013 - 12:28PM

    I understand the problems that our Security Agencies are facing in curbing terrorism. Its very complex. Imagine for instance that you are head of ISI. You want to get rid of all the TTP commanders and associates to curb terrorism. You know that agencies like RAW and Mossad are involved. And you do not have the latest technologies (Drones). So what do you do?
    In this scenario one would allow US to continue operating drones and provide information on the where about of the wanted TTP leaders (via ISI field agents) as long as the US coordinate and inform every time the Drones enter Pakistani airspace. Due to the anti US sentiment, the Government and the Army / ISI have on various denied that they have secretly given a nod to the US to operate drones in the Pakistani airspace. Another reason for denying this is that they fear a backlash from TTP and other organisations known to be collaborating with the banned outfits. People would call this a double policy but I would say that to keep TTP on the back foot we require such policies. And if one lies to save thousands is better than one speaks the truth and have thousands killed. So in my opinion as long as drones are used for the TTP commanders they are good for Pakistan and if they are used for other purposes then the Army and the Government should and must protest.


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