Pak Clears Airspace for US to Conduct Drone Strikes: Report

Washington - Pakistan clears airspace of a certain area where a drone attack is planned, in correspondence with the faxes its intelligence service receives once a month from United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said in a report on Wednesday.

According to the report, the intended target areas are “outlined” to the Pakistani intelligence service which posits that Pakistan gives an unspoken consent to the US forces to conduct these strikes within its borders.

However, when the WSJ reached representatives of the White House’s National Security Council and CIA, they refused to comment on consent from Pakistan’s side saying that “such information is classified.”

This rationale has caused an uproar among the legal officials, particularly lawyers at the US State Department.

The US administration lawyers, however, believe the CIA’s campaign is legal, given that they have a tacit consent from the Pakistani military as it “does not interfere physically with the unpiloted aircraft in flight.”

The WSJ quoted two senior administration officials as describing Pakistan’s silence over the covert drone operation as a “yes.”

Pakistan’s government officials and politicians have, from time to time, spoken against the drone operation in its tribal region. However, the Obama administration maintains that it launches drone strikes in the sovereign country in its effort to purge the region from presence of militants.

Pakistani officials also once considered shooting down a drone in order to express Pakistan’s rejection of the programme, however, the idea was later shelved after it was thought to be “needlessly provocative”.

After the US conducted a clandestine raid on May 2, 2011, the Inter-Services Intelligences (ISI) stopped acknowledging receipts to the US as a notification of a drone strike, which according to an official, was ISI’s way of conveying to the US that “they are upset with them”.

Still for some US officials, the lack correspondence from ISI to the faxes sent was uncomforting, “leaving already-vague communications even more open to interpretation.”

This concern has caused US administration lawyers to deliberate over the drone programme and if any changes can be brought. Some of the drones might be put under the control of the US military, “which would allow officials to talk more openly about how the program works and open the door to closer cooperation with the Pakistanis.” Agencies

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