The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has halted its assassination
drone attacks on Pakistan's tribal regions in an effort to mend fences with
the Asian ally, a report says.
The undeclared suspension of the CIA attacks is aimed at improving the
strained relations with Islamabad after recent US-led NATO airstrikes on two
Pakistani military border checkpoints in Mohmand agency killed 24 Pakistani
The United States conducted a joint investigation with the NATO military
alliance, claiming that a disastrous spate of errors and botched
communications led to the incident. Pakistan, however, rejected the results of
The strikes prompted the Pakistani officials to close the border crossings
that the Western military alliance uses to transfer fuel and other supplies
for foreign forces in Afghanistan.
The decision to suspend the drone attacks also comes amid intensifying debates
in the Obama administration over the future of the CIA's covert drone war in
Pakistan, the paper said.
This is while, some officials in the State Department and the National
Security Council have described the drone strikes as counterproductive, saying
the ordinary militants are easy to replace, the report added.
Some US intelligence officials are urging the CIA to cut back the paramilitary
role it has assumed since the September 11, 2001 to refocus on espionage.
They suggest handing the mission to the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations
Command, which flies its own drones and conducts secret counter-terrorism
operations in Yemen and Somalia.
The US aerial attacks, initiated by former US President George W. Bush, have
escalated under President Barack Obama.
Relations between Islamabad and Washington have soured over the unauthorized
attacks, with Pakistan insisting that the airstrikes violate its sovereignty.
Following the US-led NATO attack in Pakistan's Mohmand region, Islamabad
warned that it will shoot down any American assassination drone intruding its
While the US government has always declined to publicly discuss its aerial
attacks in Pakistan, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta admitted on October 11
that the US is fighting a war in Pakistan, using drones.