Party wants CIA chief executed for role in drone attacks
ISLAMABAD | A Pakistani political party launched a full-throated attack on the CIA drone program Wednesday, turning up the heat on an issue that Islamabad has tried to manage without sparking a crisis with Washington.
The party revealed what it said is the name of the CIA’s top spy in the country and called for him to be tried for murder.
U.S. missile attacks targeting Islamic militants in Pakistan’s northwest have long been a source of tension between the two countries, complicating a troubled alliance that Washington is relying on to help negotiate an end to the war in neighboring Afghanistan.
Friction has increased in recent weeks with a pair of especially contentious strikes: one that killed the Pakistani Taliban’s leader as the government prepared to invite him to hold peace talks, and another that occurred outside the boundaries of the country’s tribal region where most attacks have taken place.
The U.S. has shown no willingness to abandon a tool it views as critical to fighting al Qaeda and Taliban militants based in Pakistan who are outside the reach of American soldiers.
Pakistani officials regularly criticize the strikes as a violation of the country’s sovereignty and say they kill too many civilians. That has made the drone program unpopular with the public.
But the Pakistani government and military are known to have secretly supported at least some of the attacks.
One of the biggest drone critics has been the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which is led by cricket star Imran Khan and controls the government in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Pakistan Tehreek- e- Insaf has pushed the federal government, which is controlled by a rival party, to take extreme measures like cutting off the NATO troop supply line to Afghanistan.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s information secretary, Shireen Mazari, sent a letter to police Wednesday calling for the CIA station chief in Islamabad and agency director John O. Brennan to be tried for murder and “waging war against Pakistan” in connection with a drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu district on Nov. 21.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd would not confirm the Islamabad station chief’s name and declined to comment. The Associated Press is not publishing the name given by Ms. Mazari because it could not verify its authenticity.
It is the second time in recent years that Pakistanis opposed to drone strikes targeting Islamic militants have claimed to have revealed the identity of the top CIA spy in the country.
Ms. Mazari claimed in her letter that the station chief does not enjoy diplomatic immunity and should be prevented from leaving the country. Interrogating him could produce the names of the pilots who fly the drones, she said.
A spokeswoman for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Anila Khawaja, declined to say how the party obtained the station chief’s name.
Ms. Mazari said the strike in Hangu killed four Pakistanis and two Afghans, and also wounded children.
Pakistani intelligence officials say the attack killed five Afghan militants, one of whom was a deputy to the leader of one of the most dangerous groups fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.