Washington, Nov 17 : Second time in the past few days, a leading American daily the Washington Post has claimed that the US and Pakistan had agreed to a "don't-ask-don't-tell policy that allows unmanned Predator aircraft to attack suspected terrorist targets in rugged western Pakistan", and according to which Islamabad will keep on protesting against them but simultaneously giving a tacit approval.
Quoting a senior Pakistani official, the report said that the US-Pakistani understanding over the air strikes was 'the smart middle way for the moment' and that "unlike the Pervez Musharraf government, the present one 'is delivering but not taking the credit'."
"The officials described the deal as one in which the US government refuses to publicly acknowledge the attacks while Pakistan's government continues to complain noisily about the politically sensitive strikes," said a report published in the paper on Sunday.
It added: "There appears to be an understanding in place that US troops will not physically carry out operations in Pakistani territory akin to the September 3 attack, which caused uproar across the country."
"What is interesting about the said arrangement between Washington and Islamabad is that the government has claimed the contrary in parliament and continues to make public protests whenever a Predator strike takes place," the report said further.
According to the report, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari recently admitted in an interview (to the newspaper) that he receives 'no prior notice' of the air strikes and that he disapproves of them. "But he said he gives the Americans 'the benefit of the doubt' that their intention is to target the Afghan side of the ill-defined, mountainous border of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), even if that is not where the missiles land. He said the US 'point of view' is that the attacks are "good for everybody. Our point of view is that it is not good for our position of winning the hearts and minds of people," added the report.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has vehemently denied the Post report. The country's Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said Islamabad "had not made any tacit deal" with the US, and that the American media "keeps publishing baseless reports about such agreements".
"Under the rules of engagements, only Pakistani troops could operate on their side of Pak-Afghan border," the Daily Times quoted him as saying.