Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Zaheer-ul-Islam has left for Washington to discuss the issue of assassination drone strikes with his Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) counterpart, military sources say. The talks between Lt Gen Islam and David Petraeus are expected to be held on August 1st through the 3rd, with drone strikes reportedly being the main agenda.
According to a Pakistani security official, the sides are to discuss counter-terror cooperation and intelligence sharing.The source says that Lt Gen Islam is to demand an end to US drone attacks against militants on Pakistani territory.
The meeting is to be the first since tensions escalated between Islamabad and Washington last November when 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in US-led airstrikes on two checkpoints on the Afghan border.Following the incident, Pakistan closed its border crossings to trucks carrying supplies for the 130,000-strong US-led mission in Afghanistan. It was reopened on July 3 after US Secretary of state Hillary Clinton apologized for the deaths of the soldiers. However, Pakistan closed the supply route again, after gunmen attacked a convoy of NATO supply trucks last week. The US claims its drone strikes target militants, although casualty figures clearly indicate that Pakistani civilians are the main victims of the attacks. Despite Islamabad’s calls for the US to end its strikes, Washington carries out its attacks on the country’s tribal regions at an almost daily basis. SZH/JR/IS