After appointing Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence in March 2012, Islamabad has focused on recovering from two high-profile international incidents that strained relations with the U.S. in 2011 — the American raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad and the U.S. killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in an airstrike along the Afghan border.
Lt. Gen. ul-Islam went to Washington in August for his first meeting with CIA Director David Petraeus, where he asked the U.S. to cease missile strikes by CIA-operated drones, which Pakistan has long held is a violation of their sovereignty, and for the U.S. to share target information so Pakistan intelligence can assist or carry out strikes on terrorists.
The meeting follows a June visit to Pakistan by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in which he urged Pakistan to crack down on terrorists freely passing through the Afghanistan border. He called on Pakistan to stop “allowing terrorists to use their country as a safety net in order to conduct their attacks on our forces”. He went on to emphasize, “We have made that very clear time and again and we will continue to do that, but as I said, we are reaching the limits of our patience.”
Publicly, at least, both sides are hoping to build on improved relations since the Americans have apologized for the airstrike that killed the 24 soldiers and the Pakistanis re-opened supply routes to Afghanistan that they had closed down after the incident.
U.S. officials told CNN the first meeting between ul-Islam and Petraeus was “substantive, professional, and productive”.