Washington: The White House has no intention to end CIA drone strikes against militant targets on Pakistani soil, US officials say, possibly setting the two countries up for diplomatic tensions after Pakistan's Parliament unanimously approved new guidelines for the country's troubled relationship with the United States.
US officials say they will work in coming weeks and months to find common ground with Pakistan, but if a suspected terrorist target comes into the laser sights of a CIA drone's hellfire missiles, they will take the shot.
It is not the first time the US has ignored Pakistan's Parliament, which demanded an end to drone strikes in 2008. What is different now is that the Pakistani government is in a more fragile political state and can continue no longer its earlier practice of quietly allowing the US action while publicly denouncing it, Pakistani officials say.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the high stakes diplomatic jockeying. The Parliament approved on Thursday recommendations intended to guide Pakistan's government in its negotiations to reset the US relationship. The guidelines allow for the blockade on US and NATO supplies to be lifted. The lawmakers demanded a halt to CIA-led missile attacks but did not make that a prerequisite to reopening the supply lines.
The relationship between Pakistan and the US faltered after a series of incidents in 2011 that have damaged trust on both sides from the controversy over CIA security officer Ray Davis, who killed two Pakistani alleged assailants and was later released, to the US Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May, without Pakistani permission.
But the arguable nadir in relations came in November, when US forces returned fire they believed came from a Pakistani border post and killed 24 Pakistani troops.