Leaked cable says Pakistanis sabotaged own air missions
Another cable reveals that Pakistan's army chief asked U.S. military officials for “continuous” coverage by Predator drones along that border despite criticism of the strikes by Pakistani officials in public.
A March 2006 cable cites the Pakistani deputy chief of air staff for operations, Air Vice Marshal Khalid Chaudhry, as telling a visiting U.S. delegation that he was receiving monthly reports of acts of “petty sabotage” of jets by airmen.
Vice Marshal Chaudhry interpreted these acts as an effort by “Islamists amongst the enlisted ranks to prevent [Pakistani air force] aircraft from being deployed in support of security operations in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas along the Afghan border,” the cable says.
The U.S. delegation was led by John Hillen, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs.
Another cable, sent in February 2008, revealed that Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, sought “continuous Predator coverage of the conflict area” in an area along the Afghanistan border where the Pakistani army was fighting militants.
“Fallon regretted that he did not have the assets to support this request, but offered Joint Tactical Aircraft Controller (JTAC) support for Pakistani aircraft. Kayani demurred, saying that having U.S. JTACs on the ground would not be politically acceptable,” according to the cable.
Vice Marshal Chaudhry, speaking “off the record,” told Mr. Hillen that Pakistani aircraft are called regularly to provide air support to military and security forces when they get into tight spots in the tribal areas near the Afghanistan border, “dryly adding that army brass and the ground forces commanders would deny it,” the cable said.
Most Pakistanis oppose drone strikes, which they see as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty.
U.S. and Pakistani officials have not publicly acknowledged the covert program.
However, a Pakistani official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the matter, told The Washington Times that these operations have been carried out after robust intelligence sharing between Pakistan and the U.S.
The Predator drones are operated from bases inside Pakistan the Shamsi air base and Jacobabad.
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