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US, Pakistan hope to improve intelligence cooperation

July 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, July 29: The new ISI chief arrives in the US capital on Wednesday for talks aimed at improving intelligence cooperation between the two countries, although media in both countries are focusing on issues that cannot be resolved in one meeting.

It is the first time in a year that intelligence chiefs of the two countries are meeting. This will also be the first meeting between them since Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam became the ISI chief in March.

Reports in the Pakistani media claim that Gen Islam will demand an end to US drone strikes in Fata and ask for the means for Pakistan to carry out the attacks instead.

The US media says that CIA Director Gen David Petraeus will focus on stopping cross-border attacks into Afghanistan and repeat the US allegation that Pakistani intelligence agencies were helping Fata-based militants in carrying out these attacks.

Reports in the US media also claim that the United States is unlikely to accept Pakistan’s demand for stopping drone strikes or for access to drone technology.

Pakistan has its own complaints on the cross-border attacks as well.

On Friday, Pakistani Ambassador Sherry Rehman told a US think-tank that some Taliban groups were using bases in Afghanistan for attacking Pakistani military posts. She said that on 52 occasions during the last eight months Pakistan had provided to American and Nato commanders in Afghanistan the locations from where the militants were attacking.

But a top Obama adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Douglas E. Lute, rejected her claims, saying that “it’s unfair to” compare Pakistani Taliban’s “small-in-scale presence inside Afghanistan to the decades-long experience and relations between elements of the Pakistani government and the Afghan Taliban”.

His comments indicate that the United States is unwilling to help control cross-border attacks into Pakistan unless Islamabad cooperates with Washington in preventing incursions into Afghanistan.

Diplomatic observers in Washington, however, speculate that the Islam-Petraeus meeting may lead to some understanding.

But an official statement issued in Islamabad simply said that Gen Islam “will visit USA from 1st to 3rd August. This will be a service-to-service bilateral visit” and he will meet the CIA chief.