The powerful ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha has warned the US that Pakistan will be "forced to respond" if it does not stop drone strikes in the country's tribal belt, according to a media report on Sundy.
Pasha, who faced tremendous criticism after the May 2 US raid that killed Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad, made Pakistan's stand clear during a meeting yesterday between visiting CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell and senior ISI officials.
The ISI chief took a firm stance with the US on drone strikes, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted its sources as saying. "We will be forced to respond if you do not come up with a strategy that stops the drone strikes," Pasha reportedly told Morell. Pasha also described a recent incursion by NATO helicopters into Pakistani airspace as a "shock" for defence cooperation between the US and Pakistan. Morrell also met operational leaders of the ISI and members of the spy agency's recently set-up counter-terrorism division.
Both sides reportedly discussed a way forward that will involve the US stopping drone strikes and expanding joint operations against militants. Relations between the CIA and ISI were strained even before the May 2 unilateral American raid that killed bin Laden. CIA contractor Raymond Davis shot and killed two armed Pakistani men in Lahore in January, taking relations between the spy agencies to a new low.
The ISI was embarrassed by the incident involving Davis, who was reported to be tracking groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and has been pressing the US to reveal the extent of its network and activities inside Pakistan. The ISI repeated the demand during yesterday's meetings, with Pakistani officials asking the US to provide a list of names of people employed by the CIA or other US intelligence agencies, The Express Tribune reported.