You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

CIA chief in Pakistan to answer to missiles

Mar. 21, 2009 - 02:33PM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 21, 2009 - 02:33PM  |  
  • Filed Under

ISLAMABAD The new director of the CIA held high-level talks in Pakistan on Saturday after a provincial leader warned against expanding U.S. missile strikes on al-Qaida and Taliban targets inside the country's thinly policed border with Afghanistan.

  • Please enable JavaScript for your browser in order to use
Want to read more?
Current Subscribers
Access to Army Times Prime is free for current Army Times subscribers.
Log in
Haven't registered online?
Activate Account
New Subscribers
Start your subscription to Army Times Prime for as little as 59¢ a week!

ISLAMABAD The new director of the CIA held high-level talks in Pakistan on Saturday after a provincial leader warned against expanding U.S. missile strikes on al-Qaida and Taliban targets inside the country's thinly policed border with Afghanistan.

Leon Panetta arrived in Pakistan on his first overseas trip since taking office as the Obama administration seeks a strategy to turn around the faltering war against Taliban militants in neighboring Afghanistan.

The United States is concerned that political turmoil in Pakistan is distracting its government and army from combating Islamist insurgents threatening the stability of the nuclear-armed country and the surrounding region.

Panetta arrived from New Delhi, where Indian officials said they discussed the November terrorist attack in Mumbai, which has been blamed on a Pakistan-based militant group.

In a meeting with the CIA chief Saturday evening, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani stressed the need to resolve his country's 60-year dispute with India over the divided Kashmir region so that Pakistan can "singularly focus its attention in eradicating the menaces of extremism and terrorism," Gilani's office said in a statement.

Panetta expressed satisfaction with bilateral cooperation and said Washington was urgently lining up more economic assistance for Pakistan as well as equipment and training for its security forces, it said.

Neither Panetta, who later met Pakistan's president and Interior Ministry chief, nor the U.S. Embassy made any public comment.

In a sign of U.S. frustration at Islamabad's failure to eradicate militant safe havens in its territory, unmanned aircraft operated by the CIA are believed to have carried out dozens of missile attacks in Pakistan's wild tribal regions along the Afghan border since last year.

U.S. officials say the missile attacks have killed several senior figures in al-Qaida, which Washington worries is plotting Sept. 11-style attacks in the West, and have significantly weakened the terror network's organization.

However, Pakistani leaders publicly protest the strikes, arguing that they kill too many civilians, stoke anti-American sentiment and undermine the government's own efforts to neutralize extremists.

The New York Times reported this past week that U.S. officials are weighing extending the missile strikes into Baluchistan province in pursuit of insurgent leaders who have moved south in search of safety.

Western and Afghan officials have long suspected that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and other members of the Taliban government ousted by the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 have found refuge in or near the city of Quetta, Baluchistan's capital.

The head of the Baluchistan provincial government insisted Friday that Mullah Omar was in Afghanistan and there was no justification for missile attacks in Baluchistan. The provincial assembly passed a resolution Saturday demanding that the federal government prevent any such attacks.

Pakistani politics have been roiled by a bitter power struggle between President Asif Ali Zardari and the opposition leader that has dragged in the judiciary.

On Saturday, the retirement of Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar opened the way for the reinstatement of a judge ousted by former military leader Pervez Musharraf and championed by opposition leader Nawaz Sharif.

Dogar was sworn in as chief justice after Musharraf declared emergency rule and purged the court in 2007 to halt challenges to his plans to extend his rule.

Musharraf was eventually pushed from office in 2008 elections by a coalition that vowed to reinstate the ousted judges, who had become symbols of a movement to restore democracy.

However, Zardari balked at bringing back independent-minded Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry until opposition parties and activist lawyers threatened protests in the capital last week.

Political tensions are high because of a Supreme Court ruling last month that disqualified Sharif and his politician brother Shahbaz from elected office because of convictions dating from Musharraf's rule.

After the ruling, Zardari dismissed the administration in Punjab, Pakistan's biggest and wealthiest province, which had been led by Shahbaz Sharif.

The government has since appealed the ruling but is also wrangling with Sharif's group and a bloc of former Musharraf supporters over the makeup of a new ruling coalition in the province.

Associated Press writers Asif Shahzad in Islamabad and Abdul Sattar in Quetta contributed to this report.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

CrossFit vs. unit PT
Troops will do the training plans in a $2.5 million study

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook