During Monday talks with Panetta, Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, asked Washington to halt its drone attacks in the country, AFP reported on Thursday.
The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, however, responded by referring to the spy agency’s ‘duty’ to protect America by carrying out such operations against militants in Pakistan, the report added.
“Panetta has been clear with his Pakistani counterparts that his fundamental responsibility is to protect the American people, and he will not halt operations that support that objective,” an unnamed US official was quoted as saying in the report.
US media said the ISI chief had also asked Panetta to cut the number of CIA agents in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the non-UN-sanctioned American drone attacks have continued even after the meeting, killing at least six civilians in South Waziristan on Wednesday.
Though Washington has at times claimed it has an agreement with Islamabad on launching such attacks, Pakistani authorities insist there has never been such a deal and that they view the airstrikes as repeated violations of the country’s sovereignty.
Moreover, Pakistani lawmakers on Thursday strongly criticized the US drone strikes and urged the government “to review its foreign policy and adopt a strict stance to stop CIA attacks inside Pakistan,” our correspondent reported.
Almost all the The leader of Pakistan’s Political Parties , whether extremist , center Right , or Center Left But all are Unified on One Point agenda that the acts of terrorism have increased in Pakistan as a result of the CIA drone attacks.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry has also slammed the drone strikes, calling them “a core irritant in the counter-terror campaign,” and said the issue would be brought up with US authorities in Washington during ‘strategic’ talks scheduled for April 22.
The US-Pakistan ties have been strained over Washington’s deadly drone attacks as well as the case of Raymond Davis — a CIA contractor who shot dead two Pakistanis in January.