Mubarak to Nawaz, Zardari and Maulana Sahab: Drones to Continue
WASHINGTON: The White House has no intention to end CIA drone strikes against militant targets on Pakistani soil, US officials say, possibly setting the two countries up for diplomatic tensions after Pakistan’s parliament unanimously approved new guidelines for the country’s troubled relationship with the United States.
US officials say they will work in coming weeks and months to find common ground with Pakistan, but if a suspected terrorist target comes into the laser sights of a CIA drone’s hellfire missiles, they will take the shot.
It is not the first time the US has ignored Pakistan’s parliament, which demanded an end to drone strikes in 2008. What is different now is that the Pakistani government is in a more fragile political state and can continue no longer its earlier practice of quietly allowing the US action while publicly denouncing it, Pakistani officials say.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the high stakes diplomatic jockeying.
The parliament approved on Thursday recommendations intended to guide Pakistan’s government in its negotiations to reset the US relationship. The guidelines allow for the blockade on US and Nato supplies to be lifted. The lawmakers demanded a halt to CIA-led missile attacks but did not make that a prerequisite to reopening the supply lines.
The relationship between Pakistan and the US faltered after a series of incidents in 2011 that have damaged trust on both sides _ from the controversy over CIA security officer Ray Davis, who killed two Pakistani alleged assailants and was later released, to the US Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May, without Pakistani permission.
But the arguable nadir in relations came in November, when US forces returned fire they believed came from a Pakistani border post and killed 24 Pakistani troops. Those incidents led to the ejection of US military trainers who had worked closely with Pakistani counterinsurgent forces, slowed CIA drone strikes, and joint raids and investigations by Pakistan’s intelligence service together with the CIA and FBI.
The border incident led to the shutdown of border supply lines into Afghanistan, more than doubling the cost of shipping in supplies for the war effort.
A recent series of high-level US military and State Department visits have produced backroom understandings on almost every issue except the drones, one former US official briefed on the talks explained, with US officials offering to negotiate some sort of payment to use the border crossing points, for instance.
The White House also is considering issuing an official apology for the deadly border incident, two senior US officials say, which would help ease Pakistani outrage and demonstrate the Pakistani government wrested at least one major concession from the US.
And while the US has no intentions of stopping its CIA and FBI counterterrorist activities on Pakistani soil, the White House could take the step of withdrawing some of the staff for a few months until the spotlight is off the controversy, as it did last year after the Ray Davis incident, and again after the Bin Laden raid.
Still, neither side is budging on the drone issue, both US and Pakistani officials say.
The White House has raised the bar on whom the CIA is allowed to target, applying new limits and all but curtailing so-called ”signature strikes” where CIA targeters deemed certain groups and behavior as clearly indicative of militant activity.
The White House also explored whether giving Pakistan advance notice of the strikes could become the basis of a compromise to keep the operation going.
In exploratory counteroffers, Pakistani officials have suggested the US ”transfer ownership” of the drones to the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, flagging them as Pakistani aircraft, taking off from Pakistani air bases, two Pakistani officials say.
The Pakistanis argue their public would react with less venom to errant strikes that hit Pakistani civilian targets than they do when such strikes are carried out by a foreign force.
They point out the drone transmissions have to travel via US-controlled satellites, giving US officials a failsafe to terminate the Pakistani strikes at any time. An alternate proposal put forward is that the US better arm Pakistan’s F-16 fleet, enabling the Pakistan air force to attack the targets.
While Pakistani officials insist the jets have proven successful in the past, US officials claim their shots flew wide of the mark, allowing some of the militant targets to escape.
There is little chance of that, with the mountain of evidence the US has built up showing the Pakistani intelligence service’s support of Afghan militants. A secret Nato report published in January obtained by The Associated Press, concluded that ”the government of Pakistan remains intimately involved with the Taliban.” Derived from interviews with captured Afghan militants, the report says ”in meetings with Taliban leaders, ISI personnel are openly hostile to ISAF (the US coalition, with ISI officers touting the need for “continued jihad and expulsion of ‘foreign invaders’ from Afghanistan.”
“We’re floundering” on how to restore the relationship, said Bruce Riedel, former CIA official, and the man who helped the White House craft its policy to reconnect with Pakistan when President Barack Obama took office in 2009. The ISI’s support of the Taliban shows that “engagement with the Pakistani government hasn’t produced the change we’d hoped for.”
Ohhh yeah, its Zardari, NS and Mulla who are manning Anti-Aircraft guns at the border on the look out for enemy bogies. Where is Gen. Khaja Sira a.k.a. Kiyani in all of this? Is his only job negotiating NRO, amassing massive wealth and requesting media not to denigrate and disparage the military institution?
Don't see how beautiful DHA schemes are sprouting in the cities of Pakistan? How can you deny such a great contribution of our generals?
Agreed my brother.......if they had additional resources, they would even carve out artificial islands in Arabian sea and develop real estate along the lines of "Palm" in Dubai.
mubarukh ho rubber stamp dummy parliament ki aik aur qarardaat raddee ki tokree mai chalee gaye.
jiye NRO + 200 % friendly opposition.
sharam ki baat hai kai even amerika nai sharukh khan incident per india sai mafi mang li hai.
hakeekat mai yeh supply ghulam fauj nai hi rukwayee thee aur amerikee ghulam fauj nai hi open karwadee hai.
- notice mileya, kak na hileya*
laye janaab mithaee agaye barhadain.
Cigars, cups of coffee, liquors,beautiful cars, impressive protocol tools are the significant features of our generals. I doubt about their capability to fend off even any fly blown from the side of Americans. These generals as useless as politicians. In the army culture, juniors are facing deaths and problems because of the irresponsible conduct of generals.
Jitni marzi galiaan do kiyani ko he is not the one sitting in the parliament and has no say in what parliament does. Time for Idiots in Parliament to take responsibility for their actions or just continue to give each other a pat on the back and eat Mitahi.
^^^ The hijra Jurnail should resign then if he thinks that the Parliament is being an impediment in the way of armed forces to effectively defend our borders. Will he do it?
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Nice way of deflecting incompetence of Government and opposition to the generals. I have never said that Kiayani isn't in bed with the americans or the current ruling junta. my point is he has no say in what parliament does and only parliament is responsible for decision made in the country.
I find it hilarious how you are justifying this current move. Chamchagiri ke be haad hoti hai.
Pti kee tou ungliaa ghee mein surr karhaee mein.
Atleast in kp and if fata elections are regularised, pti can win tons of seats.
I like this article. Jiss haqeeqat kaa ppp ko pehlay din se pata hotaa hai woh baat noon waloo ko kuch der baad samajh aati hai.
If according to you, Gen. Hijara is in the bed and making out with Americans; than why is he not entitled to brickbats and gallian as well? If he has no say, than how did he dare to question the pro and cons of the Kerry-Lugar bill? If he has no say, than how did he launch the Sawat operation without the consent of the Parliament? If he has no say, why was he not proactive and immediately fire Shuja Pasha on the eve of Abbottabad operation?
It will be interesting to see what does now. He has made big claims to stop the supplies one way or the other.
^^^ Who? Nazir Naji also did some Luch Tul on Dharna Khan as well.
Jitni marzi gaalian do Hijraey Kiyani ko he is not the one legitimizing the war of terror here. I just can't wait till this policy is thrown to the trash bin just like we have seen the ones' in past. Less than a year ago in APC all parties agreed to give peace a chance and now that has been thrown to the dustbin aswell.
Is their any doubt that this parliament, everyone whether it is Zardari, Nawaz, Asfandyar, Altaf(Baji), Fazlullah parties they all all servants to American interest. Army might not be far off either but when parliament voted on this garbage, from now on any innocent Pakistani that dies if in a suicide attack or in drones its the blood of PPP, PML-N, MQM, ANP, JUI-Fazool we should ask for in return.
It only took 15 - 30 minutes with the 2 ambassadors of United States to Pakistan (Zardari and Munter) to come to a conclusion how cheap our blood is.
A video for you from Bajaur. I might not understand his Pashto but I understand the universal language of Pain and anger.