The CIA offered in January to scale back its unofficial drone war in Pakistan, hoping to convince the country’s reluctant spy chiefs to acquiesce to a continued robotic campaign against al-Qaeda and its allies. The problem: a fair-sized chunk of Pakistan’s political leadership would rather have the drones leave altogether.
The offer was made during a meeting in London between CIA chief David Petraeus and then-top Pakistani intelligence boss Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, according to a blockbuster Associated Press story. Petraeus not only said he would give advance notice of drone strikes to Pakistani authorities. And to sweeten the deal: Petraeus offered to end the practice of so-called “signature” strikes, CIA parlance for targeting groups of people deemed suspicious by association with terrorists, and which compromise the “bulk of CIA’s drone strikes,” as reported the Wall Street Journal earlier this year.
But Pasha reportedly refused. Instead, the former Pakistani spy chief demanded the U.S. halt the strikes, and added that Pakistan “would no longer carry out joint raids with U.S. counterterrorist teams inside its country,” noted the Associated Press. Instead, Pasha demanded the U.S. give up its own intelligence, which would allow Pakistan to carry out strikes on its own — either bombing militants based in rural tribal areas with its aircraft or hunting down terrorists in Pakistan’s cities.