Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pakistan at Impasse With U.S. on Drone Attacks -- potential conflict looming between the US and Pakistan?

A visit by U.S. President Barack Obama’s top military officer to Pakistan underscored disagreements over the use of drone aircraft to target militants in the country’s mountainous northwest.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said his country won’t stop the attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. He expressed concern that Pakistani intelligence has a “longstanding relationship” with a militant Afghan group headed by U.S.-designated terrorists.

Pakistan’s military chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, reiterated his nation’s stance that the U.S. missile strikes undermine efforts to defeat guerrillas by draining support for the army’s anti-insurgency efforts. Mullen was in Islamabad to ease diplomatic tensions that soured after a Central Intelligence Agency contractor, Raymond Davis, on Jan. 27 shot and killed two armed Pakistanis he said were trying to rob him.

The Davis case, combined with the drone strikes that have killed civilians, “was a huge setback,” Mullen said in a televised interview yesterday, during which he accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, of maintaining ties to militants fighting U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. “I don’t think there is an immediate solution to this. We have to work a way through that.” (read more)