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Central & South Asia
Pakistan 'asks US to cut CIA's role'
CIA weighs greater co-ordination and information sharing with ISI while Pakistan demands fewer American operatives.
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2011 06:40
US and Pakistan forces are allies against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, but co-operation has often been strained [EPA]

CIA is considering greater co-ordination and information sharing with Pakistan's intelligence agency, US officials say.

Leon Panetta, the CIA director, and Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, met on Monday at the CIA headquarters in Washington to discuss the relationship.

The New York Times newspaper said Pakistan has demanded that the US steeply reduce the number of CIA operatives and Special Operations forces working in Pakistan, and that it put on hold CIA drone attacks aimed at fighters in northwest Pakistan.

In all, about 335 American personnel - CIA officers and contractors and Special Operations forces - were being asked to leave the country, the US daily reported quoting a Pakistani official closely involved in the decision.

The reductions were personally demanded by the chief of the Pakistan army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, according to Pakistani and US officials, who requested anonymity while discussing the sensitive issue with the New York Times.

"Director Panetta and General Pasha held productive discussions today, and the CIA-ISI relationship remains on solid footing," Preston Golson, a media spokesperson for the CIA, told Al Jazeera on Monday.

"The United States and Pakistan share a wide range of mutual interests, and today's exchange emphasised the need to continue to work closely together, including on our common fight against terrorist networks that threaten both countries."

US and Pakistani officials said the Pakistanis want the CIA to identify all its employees in Pakistan.

Pakistani officials complain that the CIA has been freelancing on its soil, running dozens of US citizens doing low-level espionage missions in their country.

Davis incident

Earlier this year a CIA security contractor shot two Pakistanis dead in Lahore, Pakistan. The CIA's refusal to claim Raymond Allen Davis as its own in the initial weeks after his arrest fed that belief, Pakistani officials say, further fracturing the trust between the CIA and ISI.

Only after the CIA admitted that Davis, a former Special Forces soldier, was a CIA contractor did the ISI agree to step in and persuade the families of the dead to accept money in lieu of prosecuting Davis, Pakistani officials say, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations.

Before Monday's meeting between Panetta and Pasha, Pakistani officials said joint counterterrorist operations with the CIA had been on hold, limited to the sharing of information since the Davis incident, although US officials disputed that.

Pakistani officials also want advance notice of CIA drone attacks. They say that an attack in mid-March hit dozens of civilians, but US officials claim they were fighters.

Pakistani officials say joint counterterrorist operations with the CIA were limited to information sharing after the Davis incident, though US officials dispute that.

Pakistan rejected last week a White House report's conclusion that it was doing too little to stop Taliban fighters' movements on its soil, and that it lacked a long-term strategy to stop extremist activities.

US intelligence and military officials believe factions in the ISI support Taliban and other armed groups, which are killing US troops just across the border in Afghanistan.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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