UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistan urges CIA chief to halt 'counter-productive' drone attacks

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, March 22, IRNA -- Pakisrani President and the Prime Minister Saturday asked the visiting CIA chief to halt drone aircraft attacks on the country’s tribal regions as these strikes are counter productive and are increasing anti-U.S sentiments, sources said.

Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, met President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and conveyed their ‘grave concern’ over these attacks, which mostly target civilians, the sources said.

Leon Panetta said in February after his appointment that U.S. aerial attacks against al-Qaeda and other extremist strongholds inside Pakistan would continue, despite concerns about a popular Pakistani backlash.

"Nothing has changed our efforts to go after terrorists, and nothing will change those efforts," Panetta said in response to questions about CIA missile attacks, launched from unmanned Predator aircraft, according to U.S media reports last month.

Sources said that the President and the Prime Minister told the CIA chief that missile attacks inside Pakistan are also creating problems for the government.

The CIA chief did not make any commitment but the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said recently that the U.S has agreed to address to Pakistan’s concern over the strikes.

The sources said the President and the Prime Minister asked the United States to supply Pakistan with drones to carry out its own missile attacks against extremists.

Pakistan has also requested other sophisticated weaponry, including Cobra attack helicopters, communications and night-vision equipment. Although the drones are unlikely -- and both U.S. and American media claims Pakistan privately in agreement on continuation of the CIA strikes -- the administration and Congress are likely to approve more military assistance along with a multibillion-dollar aid package. The reports always denied by Pakistan.

The CIA chief visiting Pakistan amid reports in the U.S media that the drone attacks may be expanded to Balochistan from the tribal region of Waziristan. The reports evoked strong resentment in Balochistan and both the provincial government and opposition parties have joined hands to condemn such plan.

The U.S has already expanded the strikes to other tribal region and even to settled areas of Bannu district.

An official statement said that the CIA Director Leon Panetta called on President Asif Ali Zardari Saturday evening in Presidency. “The matters pertaining to security situation in the region after last year’s Mumbai attacks came under discussion,” it said.

Foreign Minister Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Advisor to Prime Minister on Interior Mr. A Rehman Malik and US Ambassador in Islamabad Ms Anne Petterson were also present in the meeting.

Mr Leon Pennetta, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States called on Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani at the PM House Saturday evening, the Prime Minister office said.

During the meeting matters of mutual interests and whole gambit of Pakistan-US multi-faceted cooperation came under discussions, it said.

Prime Minister while briefing the CIA Director on Pakistan’s campaign against terrorism, its quest to have peaceful relations with all its neighbours particularly India and Afghanistan and cooperation offered by Pakistan to India with the view to bring the perpetrators of Mumbai incident to justice, it said. He also underscored the importance of early resolution of core issue of Kashmir to enable Pakistan to singularly focus its attention in eradicating the menaces of extremism and terrorism.

Mr Leon Pennetta expressed satisfaction on the existing cooperation between Pakistan and USA in various fields and commended the role of Pakistan’s armed forces and institution as the bulwark in the war against terrorism, the statement said.

He assured the Prime Minister that the US administration would expedite the passage of Kerry Lugar and other legislations from the Congress to provide Pakistan with required economic assistance and equipment and training facilities for its law enforcement agencies to help it implement its three prompt strategy in its campaign against terrorism.

The CIA chief arrived in Pakistan on Saturday morning on the second phase of his tour to South Asia after holding talks in India, a Pakistani Interior Ministry official said.

Sources said the CIA chief is also likely to meet Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and chief of the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shujaa Pasha.

End News / IRNA / News Code 406425

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list