US needs new and 'sensitive' drone deal with Pakistan: Report

Islamabad, July 18 (ANI): The United States needs a new drone deal with Pakistan, as the Nawaz Sharif government might not continue with the current policy of 'plausible deniability'.

A US think-tank report by Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in the US, said that the new deal will have to be sensitive to Pakistan's concerns and objectives.

He said that this will likely mean that Washington will face new constraints in its counter-terrorism operations.

The author added that the new agreement, if managed with care, could put the targeted killing campaign against al-Qaeda on firmer political footing without entirely eliminating its effectiveness, Dawn News reports.

The report claims that before launching the first drone strike in June 2004, the United States sought personal authorisation from then president and army chief Pervez Musharraf.

The Pakistani army for several years after that has claimed responsibility for all drone strikes, publicly denying American intervention.

The arrangement will not survive much longer in its current form because the new government will not want to continue it.

According to the report, Pakistan will have a new president and a new army chief in September, and if Washington continues the strikes without a new deal, 'Sharif's new army chief could threaten to shoot US drones from the sky.

The author warned that at that stage "Washington would likely pull the drones from normal operation rather than play a high-stakes game of chicken."

He added that in a new arrangement Washington will be required to seek Islamabad's pre-authorisation for specific targets and zones for strikes. (ANI)

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