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Little Expected Out of US, Pakistani Spy Chief Talks

  • Sean Maroney

The head of Pakistan's ISI spy agency, Lieutenant-General Zahir ul-Islam, is in Washington to meet with CIA director David Petraeus, the first such visit since a covert U.S. raid killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan more than a year ago.

But little is expected to come out of the latest closed-door discussions on anti-terrorism cooperation.
A year of frosty relations between Washington and Islamabad is beginning to thaw after Pakistan reopened NATO supply lines into Afghanistan last month.

Negotiating common tactics, strategy
But analysts expect this progress to be short-lived, as Pakistan's military spy chief Lieutenant-General Zahir ul-Islam visits with CIA director David Petraeus. Both sides strongly differ on U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and border security with Afghanistan.
Washington refuses to stop using drones against militants in Pakistan or share the technology with Islamabad. At the same time, U.S. officials continue to pressure Pakistan to go after militant safe havens in its territory. Pakistan's Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the United States has it wrong.
"That border area which is controlled by the American forces, they should concentrate on that. As far as Pakistan is concerned, there is no safe haven," he said.

Tracking extremists
Kaira says Afghanistan is where the militants have their safe havens. And the Pakistani military blames cross-border attacks from Afghanistan for killing more than 100 people in the past year.
U.S. officials strongly disagree. They want Islamabad to tackle militants, such as the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network, believed to be based in Pakistan's tribal areas. They blame the group for brazen attacks in Kabul and eastern Afghanistan, like a June 1 attack on a U.S. base near the Pakistani border. The Haqqani network released this video of the assault online. It has not been independently verified.
Ahmad Majidyar is an analyst with the American Enterprise Institute. He said U.S. patience is running low as NATO prepares to pull combat troops out of Afghanistan in 2014. "If Pakistan does not take action against the Haqqani network sometime in the future, the United States will have to take unilateral action because it remains an existential threat to the Afghan government," he said.
Majidyar says this action could take the form of more drone attacks or a commando raid, like the one that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. But he cautions that these responses could plunge U.S.-Pakistani relations to a new low.

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