TIME’s Pakistan reporter Omar Waraich examines the reported death of al-Qaeda operative Ilyas Kashmiri, killed by a U.S. drone strike on June 3. If confirmed, the targeted assassination may be a sign of greater U.S.-Pakistani cooperation after the heated rhetoric that followed the discovery of Osama bin Laden, hiding safely on Pakistani soil. Waraich writes:
It is unclear whether Friday’s attack received Pakistan’s assistance. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a brief visit to Islamabad on May 27, she carried a list of five top militant leaders Washington would like to pursue with Pakistan’s help. Kashmiri was on the list. The others were Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, the north Waziristan warlord Sirajuddin Haqqani, and Atiya Abdel Rahman, the Libyan who is operational commander for al-Qaeda. Given the bloodshed he has caused on their soil, Pakistan has very powerful reasons for wanting Kashmiri dead: he has allegedly been behind a series of deadly attacks on Pakistani security forces — including the one on a Karachi naval base, according to the journalist Saleem Shahzad, whose body was recently discovered after a controversial disappearance.
The Kashmiri slaying may also boost the CIA’s case for maintaining the current, near daily pace of drone strikes within Pakistan’s tribal areas. The day before the strike, there was a debate among senior US officials on whether to slow down the covert program, the Wall Street Journal reported. While all officials supported the program, some argued that less frequent strikes would help Washington win greater cooperation with the Pakistanis. Since mid-March, the Pakistani security establishment has been calling for all drone strikes to end.
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