US-Pak Drone Deal Exposes Kashmir Rider

US-Pak Drone Deal Exposes Kashmir Rider

7 April 2013
Times of India
Chidanand Rajghatta

Washington DC: Pakistan's former military strongman Pervez Musharraf allowed the CIA to conduct Drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas as long as the United States kept away from the country's nuclear facilities and mountain camps where terrorists were being trained for attacks on India, according to explosive new disclosures that break the wall of silence from both sides on the controversial Predator attacks, and if accurate, again exposes U.S duplicity on terrorism. The breakthrough moment reportedly occurred in 2004 when Pakistan, which had till then resisted pressure from the US to allow it to conduct Drone strikes, was humiliated militarily by a tribal warlord named Nek Mohammad. 'Muhammad's rise to power forced them to reconsider,' the New York Times related in an account of the deal in Sunday. 'The CIA had been monitoring the rise of Mr. Muhammad (in South Waziristan) but officials considered him to be more Pakistan's problem than America's. In Washington, officials were watching with growing alarm the gathering of Qaeda operatives in the tribal areas, and George Tenet, the CIA director, authorized officers in the agency's Islamabad station to push Pakistani officials to allow armed drones.' According to the report, negotiations were handled primarily by the Islamabad station of the CIA, with the station chief calling on then ISI Director General Ehsan ul Haq to discuss terms of the deal: The CIA would kill Mohammad if ISI allowed armed Drone flights over tribal areas. Pakistan's terms: they should be allowed to approve each drone strike, giving them tight control over the list of targets; and nuclear facilities and terror camps directed against India would be no-go areas. Implicit in the report is Washington's acceptance of the terms, considering that India-specific terror camps remain untouched by Drones. The report says the ISI and the CIA agreed that all drone flights in Pakistan would operate under the CIA's covert action authority - meaning that the United States would never acknowledge the missile strikes and that Pakistan would either take credit for the individual killings or remain silent. As it turned out, Pakistan did take credit for killing Nek Mohammad, even though the CIA had done the job. The deal also had the stamp of approval from Musharraf, who the NYT says, did not think that it would be difficult to keep up the ruse. 'In Pakistan, things fall out of the sky all the time,' it cites him as telling a CIA officer, in a callous remark that is certain to make his already torrid situation in Pakistan even more difficult.