ISLAMABAD, April 12: Retired Gen Pervez Musharraf has acknowledged his government had secretly cleared US drone strikes, becoming the first serving or former Pakistani official to publicly admit that the country had a deal on attacks by the CIA-operated spy planes.

Gen Musharraf said there was no blanket agreement with the US on the controversial drone campaign and that his government had cleared missile attacks “only on very few occasions where the target was absolutely isolated and [the drone strike] had no chance of [causing] collateral damage”.

The drone strikes were discussed “at the military [and] intelligence level” and cleared only if “there was no time for our own [special operations task force] and military to act”, he said.

“That was...maybe two or three times only,” he told CNN in an interview.

Sometimes, he said, “you couldn’t delay action”. “These ups and downs kept going...It was a very fluid situation, a vicious enemy...mountains, inaccessible areas.”

Gen Musharraf recalled that one of those killed by the drones was Nek Mohammad, a tribal warlord accused of harbouring Al Qaeda militants.

At the time, in June 2004, intelligence officials said Nek Mohammad died after Pakistani forces launched a missile at a house where he was staying.——Dawn Monitor

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