In a Tuesday statement the Pakistani military denied claims by American officials cited in a New York Times report on Monday, that contrary to press reports at the time, the American spy agency had not carried out two reported terror drone strikes in Pakistan’s North and South Waziristan on February 6 and 8, the daily said in a new report on Wednesday.
The American officials claimed that they rather suspected the Pakistani military of carrying out “at least one of the attacks, most likely using conventional warplanes,” the Times report says.
In the Tuesday statement the Pakistani military criticized the US claims as “a distortion of the facts” that “seems to be aimed at diluting Pakistan’s stance on drone strikes,” the report adds, while alleging that military authorities in the county “did not respond officially to requests for comment” before the article was published.
In the statement, a Pakistani military spokesman denied that its security forces had carried out “any operation, including airstrikes, in the area on the dates mentioned in the news report.”
The harsh denial, which was widely carried by Pakistani media outlets, generates an odd situation in which officials in Washington and Islamabad are in effect accusing the other of conducting the same aerial attack, although with different weaponry.
The new uproar between the two allied governments serves as yet another reminder of the political sensitivity of the terror drone campaign carried out by the American spy agency, “viewed by many Pakistanis as an expression of American hostility that infringes their sovereignty and undercuts human rights,” the report reiterates.
It further cites American officials as claiming, however, that “a handful of Pakistani military and intelligence leaders” have knowledge of the CIA assassination drone campaign and that “protocols exist for giving the Pakistanis advance notice of some strikes.”
According to the daily, the CIA has so far conducted nearly 330 assassination drone attacks in the tribal belt over the past five years.
This is while the Pakistani military does not possess an armed drone capability but has American and Chinese warplanes that can launch aerial strikes.