US agency asked to unmask its covert operatives

Islamabad: The American arrested by Pakistani authorities on charges of living in Peshawar without valid travel documents is a government security contractor and intelligence agencies have called on the US to "come clean" about their network of covert operatives, according to a media report.

Aaron Mark DeHaven was arrested in the posh University Town area of Peshawar on Friday and booked by police under the Foreigners Act. A court on Saturday remanded him to judicial custody for 14 days.

Reports said DeHaven is married to a Pakistani woman and had been running a company in Peshawar that rented accommodation in the city for American citizens.

DeHaven is a security contractor who recently worked for the US Embassy in Islamabad, Britain`s The Guardian newspaper reported today.

DeHaven was arrested as another court in Lahore began the murder trial of another American, CIA contractor Raymond Davis who was arrested last month after he shot and killed two men.

Little is known about DeHaven except that his firm, Catalyst Services, which also has offices in Afghanistan and Dubai, is staffed by retired US military and defence personnel who boast of direct experience in the "global war on terror".

According to its website, the firm offers services like "full-service secure residences", protective surveillance and armed security.

DeHaven`s arrest came amidst a "worsening" spy agency row between the two countries, with Pakistani intelligence calling on the Americans to "come clean" about their network of covert operatives in the country, the report said.

A senior unnamed ISI official told the Guardian that the CIA must "ensure there are no more Raymond Davises or his ilk" if it is to repair the tattered relationship between the two spy agencies.

"They need to come clean, tell us who they are and what they are doing. They need to stop doing things behind our back," the ISI official was quoted as saying.

There are "two or three score" covert US operatives roaming Pakistan, "if not more", he said.

The ISI official said future cooperation between the two countries is vital.

"They need us; we need them… But we need to move forward in the right direction, based on equality and respect," he said.

Pakistani civilian officials told the daily that the ISI is amplifying the fallout from the Davis case through "selective media leaks to win concessions from the US".

A senior government official, who believed the ISI and the CIA had weathered previous disagreements in private, said: "They`re playing the media; in private they`re much more deferential to the Americans."

US-Pakistan ties have plummeted to a new low since Davis` arrest as Islamabad has rebuffed repeated requests from Washington for the release of the American on grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Pakistan`s top leadership has insisted that Davis` case will be settled by the courts.