Pakistan-US Feud Boils Over CIA Drone Strikes
Washington – Even as it publicly demands an end to U.S. drone attacks on militants in its tribal area, Pakistan is allowing the CIA to launch the missile-firing robot aircraft from an airbase in its province of Baluchistan, U.S. officials said Friday.
Up to 25 people reportedly died Friday in the latest drone strike, which took place in North Waziristan, a remote tribal agency from which extremists launch cross-border attacks on U.S.-led forces in neighboring Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s contradictory positions on the strikes illustrate how the Pakistani army is trying to use public outrage in Pakistan over what are denounced as violations of national sovereignty to squeeze the U.S. into giving it a greater say in the selection of targets.
The Obama administration, however, is insisting that the Pakistani military accede to a longstanding U.S. demand to move against militant groups that control North Waziristan, which is Osama bin Laden’s suspected refuge, and that they use as a base for attacking Afghanistan.
That message was reiterated by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in talks he held with Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the head of the Pakistani army, in Islamabad on Thursday, said a knowledgeable person who asked not to be further identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Mullen told Kayani that there would be no let-up in drone operations until there are “decisive, verifiable Pak military operations against Haqqani and related groups responsible for actions leading to the deaths of American and coalition troops in Afghanistan,” the knowledgeable person said.
The North Waziristan-based Haqqani network is regarded as the most deadly and capable of the insurgent groups fighting U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.