U.S. missiles struck near a Pakistani village on the border with Afghanistan, days after Pakistan’s army leadership reportedly pressed the Obama administration to reduce attacks by remotely piloted aircraft.
“Missiles were fired by a U.S. drone at Baghar China,” a hamlet in Pakistan’s South Waziristan district, Tariq Hayat Khan, the secretary of law and order for Pakistan’s tribal zone, said by phone from the territory’s headquarters in Peshawar. A local resident, Ilyas Khan Wazir, confirmed an attack in a phone interview, saying he heard explosions.
The strike was the first since Pakistan’s intelligence chief, army Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, pressed the U.S. for changes in drone attacks and other Central Intelligence Agency activities in Pakistan during meetings April 11 in Washington, according to unidentified U.S. and Pakistani officials cited by the New York Times.
Tensions between the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, have risen since Jan. 27, when a security contractor for the CIA shot and killed two armed Pakistanis he said were trying to rob him. Raymond Davis, released March 16 after the payment of compensation to the dead men’s families and threats by U.S. legislators to halt American aid, was one of an unconfirmed number of CIA contractors in the country.
Pakistan’s ISI has seen an increased CIA network in the country as a threat, said Talat Masood, a political and security analyst in the capital, Islamabad.
CIA Acting ‘Independently’
For the first time in the relationship between the two intelligence agencies involved in the fight against Islamic militant groups, the CIA “is trying to penetrate into Pakistan and influence events independently of ISI,” said Masood, a retired army lieutenant general who maintains contact with senior Pakistani officers. “This, for ISI, is a break of partnership and breach of Pakistan sovereignty and breach of confidence,” Masood said in a phone interview.
On Monday, Pasha met with CIA director Leon Panetta and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to demand that the CIA give ISI more information about intelligence operations it has been conducting in Pakistan on its own, the Times said citing unidentified Pakistani and U.S. officials.
“ISI wants CIA to go back to fundamentals and readjust their strategy,” Masood said of the Pakistani demands. “I think that will happen because they both need each other. I see fewer drone attacks right now,” he said.
U.S. government officials refuse to confirm or discuss the six-year-old program of drone attacks in Pakistan, which have targeted the Taliban, al-Qaeda and allied militants, while also killing civilians.
Calls by Pakistani politicians to restrict the attacks intensified after a March 17 attack that Pakistani officials said killed between 26 and 35 people in the district of North Waziristan, which the U.S. says is a haven for Taliban and al- Qaeda militants.