Secret Pakistan-US Deal

9.jpgA clandestine agreement between the new Pakistani leadership and the US allows American drones to strike targets inside the restive tribal belt where suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban militants are reportedly taking shelter. 

“Under this secret deal, Pakistan will keep complaining about US air strikes. It will also summon the US ambassador to the Foreign Office to register its protest, but no action on the ground would be taken,” a senior official of President Asif Ali Zardari-led government told IslamOnline.net on the condition of anonymity.

 

The deal reportedly clinched after Zardari’s first official visit to Washington in September.

 

“The secret accord provides new mechanics for coordinating predator attacks and a jointly-approved list of high-value targets,” said the official.

 

Thirteen people were killed and many injured in a US missile attack on a residential compound in North Waziristan on Friday, November 7.

 

Local sources told IOL that most of the deceased were women and children.

 

Some 15 attacks have been conducted by US drones in South and North Waziristan during the last two weeks, killing over 200 tribesmen, mostly children and women.

 

However, US and Pakistani intelligence officials insist that some top Al Qaeda leaders, including its deputy chief of operations Khalid Habib, were among the dead.

 

According to Pakistani officials, Habib was killed on October 16 in a predator

strike on targets in South Waziristan.

 

“Now, officially, Pakistan will oppose any violation of its airspace and issue statements protesting the drone attacks, but will not go beyond that,” said the government official.

 

Pakistan is the key supply route for US troops in Afghanistan.

 

Security analysts believe that if Islamabad had been serious about its protest, it would have at least threatened to halt supplies to Americans forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

 

Economic Price

 

Sources link the secret deal to Pakistan’s crashing economy and dire need of financial assistance.

 

“The US administration has made it clear that the drone attacks are essential to get rid of Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, who have been hiding in South and North Waziristan,” said the senior government official.

 

“And if Pakistan doesn’t allow that then it (US) will not help arrange an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.”

 

Pakistan is desperately seeking a sum of 5 billion dollars to avoid a default.

 

Government officials say negotiations with the IMF have almost been completed, and a loan will soon be issued.

 

Well-paced government sources say Pakistan agreed to the secret deal with Washington after the World Bank cancelled last month its 300-million-dollar loan, which had already been approved.

 

“It was certainly not the IMF that pressurized the World Bank. It was America that forced the World Bank to do that,” said the senior government official.

 

But the government categorically denied any such secret deal with Washington.

 

“This is totally baseless,” Ashfaq Gondal, the federal secretary information, told IOL.

 

“There is no secret accord with US. Only Pakistani forces are responsible for any action within its territory.”

 

He insists that had there been any such deal, the president and his premier could not have protested American strikes in the tribal area.

 

“The president and the prime minister have continuously been condemning such attacks. They are against our sovereignty,” said Gondal.

 

Asked why Islamabad stops at mere publicized protest, Gondal said: “I can’t tell you right away what action Pakistan can take against the strikes. But I totally deny any such secret deal.”

 

Source: IslamOnline

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