ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A Pakistani political party published what it said was the name of the CIA’s chief operative in Islamabad and demanded on Wednesday that he face murder charges over a U.S. drone strike that killed five people last week.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), which is led by former cricket star Imran Khan, included the name in a letter to police, a copy of which was released to the media.
“I would like to nominate the U.S. clandestine agency CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) Station Chief in Islamabad ... and CIA Director John O. Brennan for committing the gross offences of committing murder and waging war against Pakistan,” PTI information secretary Shireen Mazari said in the letter, which was written in English.
Reuters removed the name referred to in the letter as it could not be independently verified. The U.S. embassy in Islamabad declined to comment.
Intelligence agencies usually keep the identities of operatives under wraps. If the party has correctly named the head of the CIA in Pakistan, he may be forced to leave.
It would not be the first time the CIA has been forced into such a situation in Pakistan. In 2010 the then-station chief left the country after his name was revealed during a legal case involving another drone strike in which civilians were killed.
U.S. officials said then that they believed the exposure was deliberate retaliation by elements of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), who were upset that their spy agency and some of its officers had been named as defendants in a lawsuit filed in U.S. courts.
The November 21 drone strike in Khyber Pakhtunkwa, which is in the country’s lawless northwest, struck a religious seminary believed to be connected with the Taliban-linked Haqqani Network. It killed a senior member of the network and four other unidentified people.
The United States has used drone strikes extensively to target alleged militants, though the victims have sometimes included civilians. Pakistan publicly opposes the strikes as a violation of its sovereignty, but officials privately admit that the government broadly supports them.
Editing by John Chalmers and Mark Trevelyan