Pakistani officials have expressed mounting frustration with the accelerated pace of the CIA’s Predator air campaign and the expanded presence of agency operatives, including a security contractor who fatally shot two Pakistani men in Lahore in January.
Still, any new restrictions on the CIA’s activities in Pakistan could have far-reaching consequences for the U.S. pursuit of al-Qaeda and its top leaders, who are thought to be based in the country’s tribal belt.
The frictions were the focus of a meeting Monday between CIA Director Leon Panetta and the head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha.
A senior Pakistani official called the tone of the meeting “cordial” but said Pasha made clear that the CIA-ISI relationship had suffered a “breach of trust” and had to be reconfigured with a “clear code of conduct.”
“We need to know who is in Pakistan doing what, and that the CIA won’t go behind our back,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “There has to be a greater sharing of information, in terms of what the CIA wants and is doing. They have to stop mistrusting the ISI as much as they do . . . you can’t have us as your ally and treat us as your adversary at the same time.”
Pasha asked the CIA for a complete list of its employees and contractors in Pakistan and made clear that some may be asked to leave, the official said. The Pakistanis also said that they wanted a reduction in the number of Predator strikes and more timely information about intended targets before attacks are launched.
CIA officials sought to play down the disagreement and signaled that joint counterterrorism operations would continue.
“Director Panetta and General Pasha held productive discussions today, and the CIA-ISI relationship remains on solid footing,” agency spokesman George Little said. “Today’s exchange emphasized the need to continue to work closely together, including on our common fight against terrorist networks that threaten both countries.”
Even so, U.S. officials acknowledged that Pasha pushed to restructure the relationship and to impose new requirements on the CIA.
“The Pakistanis have asked for more visibility into some things, and that request is being talked about,” a U.S. official said. There have also been discussions on “ways to further expand the partnership,” the official said. “The bottom line is that joint cooperation is essential to the security of the two nations. The stakes are too high.”