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Angry Pakistan rejects U.S. appeal, plans to review drone campaign

Despite a visit by Hillary Clinton to mend ties, Pakistani leaders reject appeals not to close military intelligence sharing centers and say they will review the U.S. drone campaign. Clinton presses Pakistan to do more against militants.

May 27, 2011|By Paul Richter, David S. Cloud and Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times

Pakistan has repeatedly rejected those requests, arguing that it already is battling militants in other tribal areas and does not have the manpower for another offensive.

However, its widely believed that Pakistan views the Haqqanis and the Afghan Taliban as likely key players in Afghanistan's future once the U.S. pulls out — at which point Pakistan would prefer them as allies and not foes.

On the question of Pakistani support for Bin Laden, Clinton appeared to come away from Friday's meeting convinced that the country's top leadership did not know the Al Qaeda leader's whereabouts.

"They were quite emotional in conveying how they would have gone after him if they had known he was there," Clinton said. "As [President Zardari] said, there's a lot of reason to believe Al Qaeda was behind his wife's murder." Zardari's wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated in 2007.

Pakistani authorities have begun both civilian and military investigations into Bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad for as many as five years, and whether any Pakistani officials helped him hide.

Clinton said the Pakistani leaders "were very forthcoming in saying somebody, somewhere was providing some kind of support."

Despite the turmoil caused by the Bin Laden raid, Pakistani authorities allowed a CIA team to visit Bin Laden's sprawling compound Friday to gather forensic evidence. The Pakistani government has also returned the broken tail of a U.S. helicopter that crashed during the raid, and has allowed U.S. investigators to question Bin Laden's wives in Pakistani custody.

paul.richter@latimes.com

david.cloud@latimes.com

alex.rodriguez@latimes.com

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