NEW: U.S. official says Pakistan could take "several steps" against extremists
The ISI chief will ask that Pakistan be allowed to conduct strikes
"You (the U.S.) develop a target and let us hit it," he will say
Pakistan has been critical of the drone program
The new chief of Pakistan’s spy agency will urge the United States to end drone strikes on Pakistani soil and identify targets that the country’s security forces can then attack, a senior intelligence official said.
Lt. Gen. Zahirul Islam will deliver the message during a meeting with the head of the CIA on August 2, said the Pakistani intelligence official, who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
“You (the U.S.) develop a target and let us hit it,” Islam will tell CIA Director David Petraeus, the official said. “It would be ideal if the U.S. provides drone technology to Pakistan.”
Islam’s call will continue an ongoing refrain from Pakistan about the CIA’s controversial drone program. Pakistani officials and lawmakers have demanded an immediate end to the drone strikes, saying they have led to civilian deaths.
In keeping with its general policy, the CIA would not comment on meetings between the director and senior officials from other states, including whether the Pakistani intelligence chief was coming to Washington. But a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing intelligence matters, said the United States “supports the Pakistanis taking more responsibility for ridding the tribal areas of al Qaeda and its militant allies.”
“The Pakistanis clearly have had, and will have, opportunities to show they are serious about taking actions with a practical effect on rooting out terrorists,” the official said, adding there were “several actions” Pakistan could take to get rid of al Qaeda, the Pakistani arm of the Taliban and the Haqqani network – a Pakistan-based militant group blamed for numerous attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.
In a rare public statement earlier this year, President Barack Obama’s administration defended the use of unmanned drones to target suspected terrorists. John Brennan, the president’s top counterterrorism adviser, said the strikes are conducted “in full accordance with the law.”
The program uses unmanned aerial vehicles, often equipped with Hellfire missiles, to target suspected terrorists in remote locations overseas, with many such strikes occurring in Yemen and Pakistan.
The intelligence official said Pakistan’s military is already operating in areas where the United States has conducted drone strikes. The Pakistani military carried out 61 operations in North Waziristan since January, he said.
North Waziristan, one of the seven districts of Pakistan’s volatile tribal region bordering Afghanistan, is widely considered the stronghold of the Haqqani network.
CNN’s Pam Benson contributed to this report.