|The lobby of the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia
© AFP/File Saul Loeb
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The CIA has no plans to withdraw its top spy from Islamabad after his identity was allegedly divulged in a Pakistani newspaper, a US official said.
The publication of the name came amid severe tensions between the two countries, with Islamabad complaining of “unilateralism” after the US raid last week that killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil.
“There are currently no plans to pull the CIA’s chief of station out of Pakistan,” a US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
US officials told the Times that the move appeared aimed at disrupting the work of Washington’s spy agency in the aftermath of the bin Laden raid.
But a Pakistani security official denied the intelligence services had been behind any leak and said the name was incorrect.
“If we were to release it, wouldn’t we release the right name rather than the wrong name?” the official told AFP.
Asked how it was printed in the first place, the official said: “The Pakistani media might have been working to find out the name and got the wrong name and printed it… but I don’t know from where the name came.”
In December, the CIA had to withdraw its top spy in Islamabad after a newspaper published the name of the officer.
The White House said Monday it would not “apologize” for launching the operation on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, north of Islamabad.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani criticized the US raid and also insisted the country reserves the right to “retaliate with full force”.
However, he stopped short of spelling out what, if anything, would be done should the United States stage another high-profile raid and stood by the “strategic” partnership with Washington as in Pakistan’s interest.
The CIA and the State Department declined to comment on the fate of the station chief in Islamabad.
But State Department spokesman Mark Toner said “counter-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan is in our national security interest.”
“It has yielded results, tangible results, over the last decade,” he told reporters.
He added that it is “in our national interest to continue that cooperation” but “that’s not to say we’re always going to see eye-to-eye on every issue”.
© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license