THE Los Angeles Times has, in a news item, revealed that there are about 200 CIA operatives working in Pakistan's tribal areas helping its intelligence apparatus hunt down terrorist networks. That, according to the paper, makes it the largest CIA overseas operation after Iraq. The paper also claims that this programme was initiated immediately after 9/11. Earlier, there had been reports about the presence of US soldiers in Pakistan helping the ISI in its counterinsurgency operations. The country in no way stands to benefit from their presence on its soil; on the contrary, it is bound to have an adverse impact on the local psyche and lead to a backlash. Rather than setting things right, it could increase the hostility of the local tribesmen towards the government and particularly the Pakistani troops stationed there. Operations that the American airplanes have launched on several occasions to hit the so-called terrorist hideouts but, in fact, resulted in killing innocent people, have already created intense ill will among the local population. Latest reports say that six missiles have been fired from an unknown location into South Waziristan. This will constitute another provocation to the tribesmen to take revenge. The vicious cycle cannot be broken with the presence of CIA operatives in the country nor by indiscriminate attacks.