Key US lawmaker slams Pak drone policy

WASHINGTON - A key American senator has criticized Pakistans policy on U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistani territory, asserting that while Islamabad privately approved the strikes, it publicly condemned them. "I wish they'd tell their public about their support of our operations instead of attacking us for them, because that is one of the things that just creates propaganda fodder for the very people who are out to destroy us and them," said Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Lavin was reacting to remarks by Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the committee that Pakistan not only approved the drone attacks, it also had an arrangement with the United States that allowed Islamabad to receive data collected by the pilotless plane. "In terms of support and information, they have asked for that, and where theyve asked for that, weve supported them," the admiral told the committee. Under the agreement, Pakistan had requested a handful of missions over specific areas, the last of which was in mid-April, a media report cited U.S. officials as saying. "I wouldn't call it deep penetration into Pakistan. Flights were limited to the areas they had requested information on," one military official was quoted as saying while requesting anonymity. Islamabad has publicly complained of missile attacks by CIA drones on al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the border areas while pressing Washington to provide it with such vehicles to allow it to conduct its own anti-militant operations. U.S. officials said they did not know why Pakistan's military had made no recent requests for drone surveillance missions, which had provided video and still images. The disputed a Los Angeles Times report that said Pakistan had exercised joint control over U.S. surveillance drones within its airspace.

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