Pakistan, US tensions spike
Pakistani officials note they have aided U.S. officials with the recent surge in drone strikes to keep the pressure on militants in North Waziristan while the overstretched Pakistani military is engaged with flood relief.
They say the drone attacks are a combined effort of "U.S. signals intelligence with Pakistani human intelligence."
The U.S. shares everything from Predator drone observation feeds to satellite intelligence with the Pakistanis at three intelligence "fusion" centers inside Pakistan — in Quetta, Peshawar, and the frontier town of Landi Kotal, U.S. officials in Pakistan said.
The Pakistanis say the cooperation, away from the public's eye, has led to the record number of drone strikes this past month, and more than 100 joint raids this year alone with the CIA, such as the one that netted Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the second-ranking Taliban official after Mullah Mohammed Omar.
The Pakistanis further point out that while about half the September drone strikes were aimed at Haqqani militant network targets in the town of Dhata Khel, the other half were targeted at traditional Pakistan enemies — the Pakistan Taliban and Uzbek militants in the town of Mir Ali. They cited this as evidence that the U.S. and Pakistan have a close relationship behind the scenes.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. remains committed to building closer ties to Pakistan, recognizing that the recent floods have caused the Pakistani military to divert resources and attention away from its campaign against extremists.
"We are quite satisfied with the level of cooperation and coordination that we have with Pakistan," Crowley said Monday. "We've had many, many direct high-level conversations. We've seen a shift in Pakistan's thinking in recent months with a great deal of activity over the past year where Pakistan has recognized the threat that these extremists pose to its own security."
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