CIA, ISI bosses mend fences

WASHINGTON – The US and Pakistani spy chiefs in their meetings at CIA headquarters made progress in mending rifts in a relationship that had soured over the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden, US and Pakistani officials said on Thursday. ISI Director General Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha made a brief visit to Washington, arriving on Wednesday and leaving on Thursday, to meet CIA Acting Director Michael Morell and other intelligence officials. Both sides sought to renew ties of cooperation and move forward in an often challenging relationship.

Pakistan and the United States have agreed on several steps to improve counter terrorism cooperation between CIA and ISI, US officials said. “The discussions today between General Pasha and the acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency went very well,” a US official said on condition of anonymity. “They agreed on a number of steps that will improve Pakistani and US national security,” the official said, adding that Pakistan’s military may resume soon.

A senior official at the Pakistani embassy in Washington said the meetings helped stabilise the intelligence partnership between the two countries. “Both sides were able to agree on the way forward in intelligence,” the Pakistani official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “This visit has put the intelligence component back on track completely.” The relationship between US and Pakistani intelligence services was especially strained after US special forces conducted a secret raid in Pakistan in May that killed bin Laden.

Pakistan branded the operation a violation of its sovereignty and Pasha offered to resign. “We have had difficulties since May 2,” the senior Pakistani official said. “Those difficulties are being addressed.” Sources said that Lt-Gen Pasha had a candid exchange of views with the US intelligence officials, touching on a number of contentious issues, including Pakistan’s curtailing of visas issued to US officials, increased drone strikes and demands on more intelligence sharing. – Nation