US reducing spy presence in Pakistan, say papers



Several Pakistani publications report that the United States has suspended some of its intelligence operations in Pakistan and is pulling several of its operatives out of the country. The Islamabad-based Express-Tribune, which is partnered with The International Herald Tribune (the global edition of The New York Times), says that the US move is designed to pre-empt an ongoing investigation by Pakistani authorities into the whereabouts and activities of hundreds of US diplomats in several of the country’s regions. According to the paper, Pakistan’s foreign ministry is in the process of conducting its first detailed investigation into the US diplomatic community in Pakistan in almost three years. The ministry has told the Express Tribune that it has detected 851 Americans operating in Pakistan with diplomatic immunity, of whom nearly 300 “are not working in a diplomatic capacity”. The paper also cites sources inside Pakistan’s ministry of the interior, which claim that as many as 414 American diplomats operating in Pakistan are members of the US intelligence community. Over 40 US intelligence operatives have allegedly left the country or have completely suspended their activities in recent weeks. The changes in US intelligence operations in Pakistan follow the January 27 arrest of Raymond Allen Davis, a registered employee of the US consulate in Lahore, who was in reality working for the Central Intelligence Agency. Davis was arrested in Lahore after killing two men, who he says tried to rob him. Interestingly, the Pakistanis claim that US intelligence officers stationed in Pakistan reside primarily in the capital Islamabad, while a few live in the country’s other large urban centers, such as Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar. Moreover, several live in what are known as “cantonment areas”, gated upscale neighborhoods reserved for Pakistan’s military and political elite, where foreign citizens are not allowed to reside. But US diplomats illegally sublet cantonment housing from private Pakistani citizens, the paper said.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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