WikiLeaks: Pakistan Quietly Approved Drone Attacks, U.S. Special Units

On the record, Pakistan has persistently criticized the United States' use of unmanned drones to attack militant hideouts in its mountainous border region.

But diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks reveal that in private the Pakistani government was not unhappy about the strikes and secretly allowed small groups of U.S. Special Operations units to operate on its soil.

In a cable sent in August 2008, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan at the time, Anne Patterson, recounted a meeting with Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. It coincided with a military operation in one of the restive frontier territories.

Patterson wrote, ""Malik suggested we hold off alleged Predator attacks until after the Bajaur operation. The PM brushed aside Rehman's remarks and said, 'I don't care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We'll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.' ""On Wednesday, a governing party representative said there was some public support in Pakistan for U.S. missile attacks on suspected militants.

""There is a segment in the country who support the drone attacks, and they feel that drone attacks have been helpful in eliminating many of the militants,"" Pakistan People's Party spokeswoman Fauzia Wahab said.

""But of course there is another point of view in the country who do not favor the drone attacks, and they think that drone attacks are intervention and violating our sovereignty,"" she said.

She did not directly answer a question about her party's position on drones."