WASHINGTON: Pakistan is apparently insisting that the United States must stop drone strikes in Fata and has offered to use its own air force to destroy militant hideouts, diplomatic sources told Dawn.
“They say they are willing to use the F-16s to bomb the hideouts,” a senior diplomatic source said. “They want the drone strikes to halt.”
According to these sources, Pakistan has proposed that whenever the Americans want to bomb a particular militant target inside Fata, “they should pass on the information to them and they will bomb the target for the Americans”.
The US media, however, are reporting that the United States also has sent a set of proposals to Pakistan to settle this dispute.
The proposals include an offer to give Pakistan advanced notice of drone strikes and implement new limits on the types of targets.
Pakistan is believed to have rejected the proposals.
Both sides have clearly defined positions on the use of this unmanned technology which the Americans say has killed many terrorists. The Pakistanis agree but they point out that the drones also have killed many civilians and want them stopped.
Senior Pakistani diplomats, who have stayed engaged with their American counterparts on this issue, admit that the US and Pakistan need to find “a meeting point” to resolve this dispute.
But they also acknowledge that it is difficult to find “a meeting point” when each side is convinced that they “need to stick to their positions to protect their national interests”, as a senior Pakistani diplomat said.
American experts, who spoke to the media on this issue, said that the Pakistani government minimised its options by taking the dispute to parliament. “No parliament can allow an external power to bomb targets inside its own territory,” one such expert said.
Bruce Riedel, who drafted the Obama administration’s first Af-Pak policy, said that the United States would not accept the Pakistani proposal to let it carry out the attacks.
Pakistan wanted to go back to the “Reagan rules — the way the CIA operated with the ISI against the Soviets … We give them a big cheque, and they make every decision about how that is spent”, he told AP.
“Minimal American footprint in country, or involvement in actual fighting the bad guys.”
The US could no longer trust the ISI to fight this war for them after finding Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani military town, he said.
OBL’s discovery in Abbottabad showed that “the ISI was either clueless or complicit,” Mr Riedel said.