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Report: Pakistan secretly endorsed U.S. drone strikes

Published: Updated:

U.S. drone attacks in Pakistani territory have been secretly permitted over years by the government in Islamabad, a recent report by The Washington Post said, citing secret documents.

The newspaper said that top-secret documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos show that the American Central Intelligence Agency had drafted documents to share information on drone attacks with Pakistan.

The “files expose the explicit nature of a secret arrangement struck between the two countries at a time when neither was willing to publicly acknowledge the existence of the drone program,” the newspaper said on Wednesday.

The documents provided details of at least 65 strikes that were marked for discussion with Pakistan.

“The documents are marked ‘top ¬secret’ but cleared for release to Pakistan,” the newspaper added.

In one case in 2010, a document describes hitting a location “at the request of your government.” Another file referred to a joint effort at picking targets.

The article - co-written by Bob Woodward, one of the two journalists who broke the Watergate scandal in the 1970s - said that the documents also showed that the United States raised concerns that extremists were linked to Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service.

In one incident, then secretary of state Hillary Clinton confronted Pakistan about cell phones and written materials from dead bodies of militants that showed links to the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

In turn, a Pakistani memo gave the names of 36 U.S. citizens believed to be CIA agents and urged the embassy in Washington not to issue visas to them, the newspaper said.

The report came a day after Amnesty International said that the United States may have broken international law by killing civilians with drones.

The strikes reported by the Post involved several years up to 2011 - before a slowdown in strikes and Nawaz Sharif’s election to the position of prime minister in May.

The Obama administration has defended drone strikes as a better way to avoid civilian casualties, saying that it carefully selects and targets al-Qaeda-linked extremists in lawless parts of Pakistan.

(with AFP)