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Pak rejects reports on US covert operations

Written by: Staff

{image-pak flag with dif_06012008.jpg news.oneindia.in}Rawalpindi, Jan 6: The Pakistan Government has rejected reports that the Bush Administration is planning to grant more freedom to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to carry out US covert operations in its tribal region, saying that the US has no authority to take such decisions, as the Pakistan Government is responsible for security in the country.

“Such reports are baseless and we reject them," a foreign news agency quoted Chief military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad, as saying.

Arshad said that there are no overt or covert US operations being carried out inside Pakistan, The News reported. He also dismissed US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton comment that if she were elected President, she would propose a joint US-British team to oversee the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

“We do not require anybody's assistance. We are fully capable of doing it on our own," Arshad said.

According to the New York Times' reports, the Bush Administration may give more freedom to the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to conduct clandestine operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Senior national security advisers of President George W Bush are arguing whether to expand the CIA"s authority, especially after intelligence inputs that the al Qaeda and the Taliban are intensifying their efforts in the tribal areas of Pakistan in order to destabilize the Musharraf regime, according to the New York Times.

On Friday, Vice President Dick Cheney, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Bush"s top national security advisers met at the White House to discuss the matter that is said to be “a broad reassessment of the US strategy", 10 days after the assassination of former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto.

They also discussed “how to handle the period from now to the February 18 elections, and the aftermath of those elections."

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