Pakistan’s foreign minister lobbed an official complaint to the US ambassador over the April 13 Predator strike in South Waziristan that killed six Haqqani Network fighters. From The New York Times:
The strikes drew a sharp rebuke from a Pakistani government that is increasingly public in its criticism of the C.I.A.’s covert role in its country.
“Pakistan strongly condemns the drone attack,” according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad, which said it had lodged “a strong protest” with the United States ambassador there, Cameron P. Munter. “We have repeatedly said that such attacks are counterproductive and only contribute to strengthen the hands of the terrorists.”
On Monday, the chief of Pakistan’s main spy agency, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, met with the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to try to resolve tensions between the two counterterrorism allies, most recently over the arrest in Pakistan of Raymond A. Davis, a C.I.A. security officer who killed two Pakistani men in January during what he said was a robbery attempt.
After the meeting, American and Pakistani officials said that Pakistan’s request for advance notice of C.I.A. missile strikes, for fewer strikes over all, and for a fuller accounting of C.I.A. officers and contractors working in Pakistan “is being talked about.” The American official added: “The bottom line is that joint cooperation is essential to the security of the two nations. The stakes are too high.”
But the timing of the strikes on Wednesday served only to infuriate Pakistani officials and raised the question of whether Pakistan would retaliate by shutting down American supply lines from Pakistan into Afghanistan, which it had done in previous disputes.
The drone attack was widely interpreted by Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, as a deliberate effort by Washington to embarrass the country. “If the message was that business will continue as usual, it was a crude way of sending it,” a senior Pakistani intelligence official said.
Also, Prime Minister Gilani told the National Assembly “that diplomatic channels were being used to exert pressure on America to stop drone attacks,” according to Daily Times.
Read the full NYT report for a glimpse into the complexities and machinations of both countries over the Predator program as well as the CIA and US military presence in Pakistan and cooperation in counterterrorism operations. The bottom line is that the rules seem to be changing. Pakistan no longer appears willing to allow the Predator strikes without exacting a high cost from the US. Most critically, the threat to shut down the supply lines through Pakistan into Afghanistan will worry the US as it enters the fighting season in the most crucial year of the Afghan war.
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