NEW YORK: In a dramatic shift in its policy, the CIA has agreed to curtail drone strikes without consent of Pakistan, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
The newspaper said the Central Intelligence Agency had made a series of secret concessions in its drone campaign after military and diplomatic officials complained that large-level strikes were damaging the fragile US relationship with Pakistan.
Among the changes: The State Department won greater sway in drone strike decisions; Pakistani leaders to get advance notice about more operations; and the CIA to suspend operations when Pakistani officials visit the US.
This comes at a time when the State Department is trying to enlist Pakistan’s help in advancing peace talks with the Taliban, a key element of a White House drive to end the war in Afghanistan. Top officials of the CIA, Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council have been pulled into the debate. Among those voicing concerns was Gen David Petraeus, who commanded the war in Afghanistan before becoming CIA director in September. A senior intelligence official said Gen Petraeus voiced “caution against strikes on large groups of fighters”.
The second type of strike, known as a ‘personality’ strike, targets known terrorist leaders and has faced less internal scrutiny.