Pakistan's ISI chief to meet CIA counterpart amid furore over drone attacks

Pakistan's ISI chief to meet CIA counterpart amid furore over drone attacks
Washington:  Pakistan's ISI chief Lt Gen Zahir-ul-Islam will visit Washington from August 1 to 3 to hold talks with his CIA counterpart David Petraeus, the first meeting between the spy chiefs amidst persisting tensions between the two countries.

"This will be a service-to-service bilateral visit, wherein he will meet his counterpart General David H Petraeus, Director CIA," said a brief official statement said.

On his maiden visit to the US after his appointment as the ISI chief, Islam is expected to raise the issue of continued drone strikes by the US in Pakistan's tribal areas and the recent incidents of cross border raids by militants based in Afghanistan.

Islam is also expected to drive down to the Capitol Hill to meet top Congressmen, in particular those members of the intelligence and foreign affairs committees. He is expected to "strongly articulate" the viewpoint of ISI to the US lawmakers, who of late have been strongly critical of the spy agency's role in the war against terror.

Sources familiar with the preparations of the ISI chief's visit told PTI that Islam is expected to demand an end to drone strikes. In lieu, he is likely to offer to take action against terrorist networks and to "deploy F-16s" in the tribal areas, but would seek greater intelligence sharing from the US.

For the past few years, the US has been reluctant in sharing intelligence information with Pakistan given its past experience that such information ultimately lands in the lap of the terrorist network or helps them to take preventive action. Pakistan has denied such allegation.

Islam was initially scheduled to visit the US in May, but that trip was postponed as the two countries were not able to reach an agreement on the reopening of the ground lines of communications to Afghanistan.

Sources said Islam is coming prepared to "talk tough" with his American counterparts and with his own set of demands and to do list for the US.

As the US prepares to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by 2014, the ISI chief, officials said, would seek assurance from the US that interest of Pakistan would be protected and taken care of.
Story First Published: July 29, 2012 10:24 IST

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