Pakistan Officials Backed U.S. Drone Campaign for Years, Got Regular CIA Briefings

Saturday, October 26, 2013

After years of Pakistan bashing the United States over its drone attacks, it has been revealed that the government in Islamabad endorsed the program and received regular briefings from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on the airstrikes.


Classified CIA documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos obtained by The Washington Post showed “the explicit nature of a secret arrangement struck between the two countries at a time when neither was willing to publicly acknowledge the existence of the drone program,” Greg Miller and Bob Woodward reported.


The documents detailed at least 65 strikes that the Pakistani government was informed about, including dozens of drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal region.


Pakistan even allowed the CIA to launch its Predator drones from local airstrips for a period time during the campaign. It also participated in the selection of drone targets.


Pakistani officials were provided with maps, as well as before-and-after aerial photos of targeted compounds from late 2007 to late 2011, when the U.S. program intensified.


Dozens of alleged al-Qaeda operatives were killed in the attacks, according to the documents, which also assert that no civilians were killed or injured. (Those claims are at odds with research conducted by human rights organizations, which cite numerous civilian deaths.)


The CIA declined to discuss the documents with the Post. But an agency spokesman also did not dispute their authenticity.


Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, told the newspaper that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who took office in June, has been adamant that “the drone strikes must stop.”


“Whatever understandings there may or may not have been in the past, the present government has been very clear regarding its policy on the issue,” Chaudhry said. “We regard such strikes as a violation of our sovereignty as well as international law. They are also counter-productive.”


The documents also revealed the distrust that has existed between the U.S. and Pakistan, including confrontations by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Deputy Director Michael J. Morell with their Pakistani counterparts in which they cited evidence linking Pakistan’s intelligence services with terrorists and anti-American militant groups.


Additional evidence of the antagonism between the two countries was a high-level internal Pakistani memo naming 36 CIA agents en route to the country, and an order that they be denied visas for entry.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Secret Memos Reveal Explicit Nature of U.S., Pakistan Agreement on Drones (by Greg Miller and Bob Woodward, Washington Post)

Secret 2004 US-Pakistan Deal Revealed: CIA Assassination In Exchange for Drone Airspace (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

New U.S. Counterterrorism Playbook to Exclude Pakistan from Drone “Kill” Rules (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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