In a secret 2004 deal, Pakistan allowed American drone strikes on its soil on the condition that the unmanned aircraft would stay away from its nuclear facilities and the mountain camps where Kashmiri militants were trained for attacks in India.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that the terms of the bargain were finalised by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
“Pakistani officials insisted that drones fly only in narrow parts of the tribal areas, ensuring that they would not venture where Islamabad did not want the Americans going: Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, and the mountain camps where Kashmiri militants were trained for attacks in India,” the report said.
The CIA got Islamabad on board by taking out Nek Muhammad, a man Pakistan had labelled an enemy of the state for leading a tribal rebellion against the government.
Furthermore, it was agreed that the drones would operate under the CIA’s covert action plan, never acknowledged by the US government, and Pakistan would either claim responsibility for the attacks or look the other way.
The then Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf agreed, saying: “In Pakistan, things fall out of the sky all the time.”
With agency inputs