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Pak asks US to rein in CIA

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani demands USA reduce the number of CIA operatives and Special Operations forces working in Pakistan -- a request America cannot afford to accept in its war on terror.

world Updated: Apr 12, 2011 15:01 IST

Pakistan has demanded that the United States reduce the number of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives and Special Operations forces working in Pakistan, reports the New York Times.

The newspaper says Islamabad has also demanded an end to drone strikes aimed at militants in northwest Pakistan--a request, it says, was a sign of the "near collapse of cooperation" between the two allies. The reductions were personally demanded by the chief of the Pakistani Army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said Pakistani and American officials, who requested anonymity while discussing the delicate issue.

The newspaper reports Pakistani and American officials had told it during interviews that the demand that the US scale back its presence was the immediate fallout from the arrest in Pakistan of Raymond A Davis, a CIA security officer who killed two men in January during what he said was an attempt to rob him.

About 335 American personnel - CIA officers, contractors and Special Operations forces - were being asked to leave the country, the New York Times reported while quoting a Pakistani official. It was not clear how many CIA personnel that would leave behind; the total number in Pakistan has not been disclosed. But the cuts demanded by the Pakistanis amounted to 25 to 40 percent of United States Special Operations forces in the country, the officials said. The number also included the removal of all the American contractors used by the CIA in Pakistan.

The demands appeared severe enough to badly hamper American efforts - either through drone strikes or Pakistani military training - to combat militants who use Pakistan as a base to fight American forces in Afghanistan and plot terrorist attacks abroad.

In addition to the withdrawal of all C.I.A. contractors, Pakistan is demanding the removal of CIA operatives involved in "unilateral" assignments like Mr. Davis's that the Pakistani intelligence agency did not know about, the Pakistani official said.

The demands were made as Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, chief of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) flew into Washington for what an official called a "frank discussion" with CIA Director Leon Panetta on strained US-Pakistan relationship.

Referring to reports that Pakistani officials have made demands on the United States to scale back its presence and its counter terrorism operations in the country, an unnamed US official cited by CNN said, "Pakistan has asked for certain things and we're working it out," but the official would not elaborate.

Another US official cited by CNN acknowledged that Pakistan has requested a number of American personnel leave the country, but said a New York Times report indicating that 335 CIA and American special forces personnel have been asked to depart is a "very inflated number."

The official also disputed the claim in the Times story that the CIA has withdrawn all of its contractors after the arrest of Davis in January.

"There has been no major withdrawal of contractors," the unnamed official was quoted as saying.