Pakistan gets sensitive US drone images: NYT

May 14th, 2009 - 10:52 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, May 14 (IANS) The United States military for the first time has provided Pakistan with a broad array of surveillance information collected by American drones flying along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to the New York Times.
But it is not clear whether the cooperation will continue, the influential US daily said citing American military officials. While American military drones flew a handful of non-combat surveillance missions along the border earlier this spring at the request of the Pakistani government, requests for additional flights abruptly stopped without explanation, it said.

American military officials cited by the New York Times said Wednesday that there was no plan to allow the military to join the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in operating armed drones inside Pakistan.

The daily said they disputed a report in The Los Angeles Times Tuesday that Pakistan had been given joint control of armed American military drones inside Pakistan.

Obama administration officials are vigorously resisting sharing the drone technology with Pakistani security forces, but officials from both countries said compromises were possible, it said.

The offer to give Pakistan a much larger amount of imagery, including real-time video feeds and communications intercepts gleaned by remotely piloted aircraft, was intended to help defuse a growing dispute over how to use the drones and which country should control the secret missions flown in Pakistani airspace, American officials cited by the Times said.

In meetings last week with President Barack Obama and other American officials in Washington, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari repeated his insistence that Pakistan be given its own fleet of armed Predator drones to attack operatives of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country’s tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

But the American intelligence operatives that fly the armed drones inside Pakistan remain opposed to joint operations with Pakistani intelligence services, pointing out that past attempts were a failure, the Times said.

Several years ago, American officials gave Pakistani officials advance word of planned Predator attacks, but stopped the practice after the information leaked to militants.

“We’re going after terrorists plotting directly against the United States and its interests,” an unnamed American counter-terrorism official was cited as saying.

“Nobody wants to gamble with those kinds of targets. We tried a joint approach before, and it didn’t work. Those are facts that can’t be ignored.”

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