Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pak Army backed drone strikes : US cable

A secret cable of American government claimed that Pakistan’s military leadership requested the US to provide drone assistance for its military operations against terrorism in January 2008, WikiLeaks revealed.

Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani, in a meeting with US CENTCOM Commander Admiral William J. Fallon on January 22,2008, requested the US to provide aid in South Waziristan where the army was conducting operations against militants.

The American account of Gen Kayani’s request for drone assistance does not make clear if mere air surveillance was requested or missile-armed drones were being sought.

However the reaction to the request suggests otherwise. According to the report of the meeting sent back to Washington by Patterson, Admiral Fallon regretted that he did not have the authority to support this request but offered trained US Marines to coordinate air strikes for Pakistan Army on ground. General Kayani, however, turned down the offer saying that having US soldiers on ground “would not be politically acceptable.”

Previously exposed diplomatic cables have already shown that in private, Pakistan’s civilian leadership is strongly supportive of the drone strikes on alleged militant targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), though as they condemn them for general consumption.

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