WikiLeaks: Kayani wanted more US drone support

Last Updated: Fri, May 20, 2011 07:00 hrs

Islamabad: Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, contrary to the military's public posturing, had sought more US drone strikes to help battle militants, revealed a cable accessed by WikiLeaks.

Dawn cited secret internal US government cables which show that way back in January 2008, the country's military was asking the US for greater drone back-up for its military efforts.

In a meeting Jan 22, 2008 with top US military official Admiral William J. Fallon, General Kayani asked Washington to provide 'continuous Predator coverage of the conflict area' in South Waziristan.

The report of the meeting sent to Washington said that Admiral Fallon 'regretted that he did not have the assets to support this request'. He, however, offered trained US Marines to coordinate air strikes for Pakistani forces on ground.

General Kayani 'demurred' on it and pointed out that having US soldiers on ground 'would not be politically acceptable', reported Dawn.

The media report said that Pakistan's military has always denied any part in the drone programme.

Then ambassador Anne Patterson wrote in a cable dated Feb 19, 2009: 'Kayani knows full well that the strikes have been precise (creating few civilian casualties) and targeted primarily at foreign fighters in the Waziristans.'

In another meeting, Zardari is quoted as telling the US delegation to 'give me the drones so my forces can take out the militants'. He added that way 'we cannot be criticized by the media or anyone else for actions our Army takes to protect our sovereignty'.

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