NEW YORK - During an internal debate, the US ambassador to Pakistan and some top military leaders pushed for reining in the Central Intelligence Agencys aggressive pace of drone strikes on Pakistani territory, but their effort did not succeed, according to a dispatch in the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper said that differences within the Obama administration over the drone programme came as Pakistan and the US relations badly frayed by the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis by CIA contractor Raymond Davis in January, a wave of particularly lethal drone strikes following Daviss release from Pakistani custody in March, and the clandestine US raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2. The White House National Security Council debated a slowdown in drone strikes in a meeting on Thursday, the Journal reported Saturday, citing a US official. At the meeting, CIA Director Leon Panetta made the case for maintaining the current programme, the official said, arguing it remains the US best weapon against al-Qaeda and its allies. The result of the meeting - the first high-level debate within the Obama administration over how aggressively to pursue the CIAs targeted-killing programme - was a decision to continue the programme as is for now, the US official said. Another official, who supports a slowdown, said the discussions about revamping the programme would continue, alongside talks with Pakistan, which is lobbying to rein in the drone strikes. Most US officials including those urging a slowdown agree that the CIA strikes using the pilotless aircraft have been one of Washingtons most effective tools in the fight against militants hiding out in Pakistan. The weapons have killed some top al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders and left militants off balance in a swath of mountainous territory along the Afghan border with Pakistan where they once operated with near impunity, the Journal said. No one in the administration is advocating an outright halt to the programme according to the paper. Yet an increasingly prominent group of the State Department and military officials now argue behind closed doors that the intense pace of the strikes aggravates an already troubled alliance with Pakistan and, ultimately, risks destabilising the nuclear-armed country, said current and former officials familiar with the discussions, the dispatch said. US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, backed by top military officers and other State Department officials, wants the strikes to be more judicious and argues that Pakistans views need to be given greater weight if the fight against militancy is to succeed, said current and former US officials. Defenders of the current drone programme take umbrage at the suggestion that the programme isnt judicious, the dispatch said. In this context, the phrase 'more judicious is really code for 'lets appease Pakistani sensitivities, said a US official. The CIA has already given Pakistani concerns greater weight in targeting decisions in recent months, the official added. Advocates of sustained strikes also argue that the current rift with the Pakistanis isnt going to be fixed by scaling back the programme. Pakistani officials have always publicly condemned the drone program; only in private have they consented to the campaign and acknowledged to having helped the CIA pinpoint targets, the Journal pointed out.