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Wikileaks Cables Indicate Close Combat Cooperation Between US, Pakistan

Wikileaks Cables Indicate Close Combat Cooperation Between US, Pakistan
Wikileaks Cables Indicate Close Combat Cooperation Between US, Pakistan

A leading Pakistani newspaper has joined with the online whistleblower Wikileaks to publish diplomatic cables which indicate a closer cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistani military in counter-terrorism operations than had been previously known.

The English Language newspaper Dawn began publishing cables received from Wikileaks this week. In the printed cables there are communications which indicate that, in the past, Pakistan's military requested increased drone missions and also allowed U.S. Special Forces to conduct ground operations in volatile frontier regions near Afghanistan.

The claims come at a time when U.S.-Pakistan relations are at a low point following the unilateral U.S. raid to Kill Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan.

The Drone strikes are a highly sensitive issue in Pakistan. On Saturday thousands came out in the city of Karachi to demand an end to the drone attacks.

Pakistan's parliament recently passed a resolution warning that if the strikes continued, important supply routes for NATO forces in Afghanistan could be closed.

The published cables regarding drone activity show that the head of the Pakistani military requested 'continuous' coverage from the unmanned vehicles. But it did not indicate if that coverage also included missile strikes or just information gathering.

The Wikileaks documents also indicate U.S. Special Forces were embedded with Pakistani troops in the 2009 offensive in South Waziristan.

Pakistan's military denies the Wikileaks allegations.  A spokesman for the Pakistani Military, Major General Athar Abbas, says no U.S. Special Forces were involved directly in combat operations.

"Absolutely not," said Abbas.  "There is no truth in that that there were any boots on the ground either in North Waziristan or South Waziristan. That's not true."

Media reports quote unnamed U.S. military officials in Pakistan as saying there are no combat troops located or operating from inside the country.

Major General Abbas also said that the Pakistani military did not ask for any aid from the U.S. in regards to Drone strikes.

"We have clarified that there was no support sought from the strike drones," added Abbas.

U.S. officials have repeatedly complained that Pakistan's military engages in a double game:  playing to Pakistani public opinion by condemning the strikes, but in private supporting them.

Since the May 2 Raid that killed Osama bin Laden the intelligence sharing and relationship between the U.S. and Pakistani intelligence units and military is said to have sunk to its lowest point in many years.

The release of the Wikileaks cables also comes as criticism of the military from the fallout of the Bin Laden raid is at a high point. Many politicians are calling for the military to be censured and brought under the control of elected officials in the Pakistani government and parliament.

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