Party claims to reveal top CIA spy in Pakistan : worldleaks
Imran Khan, the political party of former cricket star on Wednesday identified a man it described as the CIA’s top spy in Pakistan, in an step-up of Khan’s campaign to end U.S. drone strikes in the country.
In a letter to the Pakistani police, Khan’s information secretary, Shireen Mazari, charged CIA Director John O. Brennan, along with a man named as the agency’s Islamabad station chief, of “committing murder and waging war against Pakistan.”
In Washington, a CIA spokesman refused to comment on the case.
Mazari required that the authorities prevent the station chief, whose identity has not yet been confirmed, from leaving the country so that he could face prosecution in a Pakistani court.
That seems unlikely, but the move is expected to infuriate U.S. officials, who had to remember a previous CIA station chief in 2010 after he was identified in the local media, also in relation to a lawsuit brought by anti-drone campaigners.
But while blame for that outing was placed on smoldering tensions between the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency, this time it appears to be driven more by Khan’s increasingly confrontational stance against drone strikes.
In an appearance on a television talk show Wednesday evening, Khan said he had named the station chief basically to punish the CIA for a deadly drone strike this month in the province his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party controls, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Now, he said, it was up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government to take the next step against the U.S. spy agency.
He has vowed to block NATO supply lines into Afghanistan in retaliation for the Nov. 1 drone strike that killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud. On Saturday, his supporters moved to deliver on that promise by searching trucks and roughing up drivers as they passed through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the way to Afghanistan.
In her letter Wednesday, Mazari took that the station chief did not enjoy diplomatic immunity and suggested that if interrogated by the police he might expose the names of the pilots who fly the drones.
The high-profile attempt to obstruct CIA operations in Pakistan was said to be a response to the Nov. 21 drone strike that struck a seminary related to the Haqqani network, a Taliban-affiliated militant group at the center of U.S. security concerns in Afghanistan. The strike, which killed the Haqqanis’ spiritual leader and five others, happened in the Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in a rare drone strike outside Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Khan has been a leading advocate of ceasing military action against the Pakistani Taliban, even though Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been the region hardest hit by Islamist violence this year, with hundreds killed in attacks. The Taliban also broke out many prisoners in an embarrassing and well-organized jailbreak in July.
Khan has used the drone issue to leverage his popularity against Sharif, who is his main electoral competitor in Punjab province, and has largely followed in framing the political debate on drones in recent years.
Some Sharif supporters criticized Khan for trying to score political points by outing the station chief.
“This a thoughtless move,” said Siddiqul Farooq, a central leader of the governing Pakistan Muslim League party. “It is selfish and compromises the national interest.”
Since the escalation of the CIA’s drone war in Pakistan in 2008, the Islamabad station has grown to become one of the spy agency’s largest outposts in the world. The agency’s expansion in Pakistan has been an thorn to U.S. relations with Pakistan.
The influence of the CIA’s Islamabad station chief has sometimes eclipsed even that of the U.S. ambassador in Pakistan. A previous station chief clashed repeatedly in 2011 with Cameron Munter, the ambassador at the time, over the intensity of the drone campaign. The Obama administration ended up siding with the CIA, and Munter’s tenure was cut short.
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