Sunday, April 24, 2011

US forced to abandon Pakistani base

Source: Press TV

Pakistani authorities have reportedly stopped all the US operations at Shamsi Air Base in the restive southwestern province of Balochistan.

"Yes I can confirm Shamsi air base is no more under the use of American and 150 US personnel stationed at the base have left," NBC quoted senior Pakistani military intelligence officials as saying.

The move comes just hours after two US drones fired missiles into the North Waziristan tribal region, killing 25 people including women and children.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been using the air base to station its unmanned predator drones.

The drones have been used to attack targets inside Pakistan's tribal areas killing several hundred innocent civilians.

The base was also extensively used in 2001 when the US started the invasion of Afghanistan.

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have been tense amid repeated breach of Pakistani sovereignty by US forces.

US-Pakistani ties have also been strained over the case of Raymond Davis -- a CIA contractor who shot dead two Pakistanis in the eastern city of Lahore earlier this year.

The base is located about 50 kilometers from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The strategic location of the base allows US forces to launch drone attacks within minutes of an order.

An investigation by The Times revealed in 2010 that the CIA has been secretly using Shamsi to launch strikes on targets on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan.

The Pakistani military had reportedly allowed the US to use Shamsi, Jacobabad, and two other bases -- Pasni and Dalbadin -- in its 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.

The then military government, led by Pervez Musharraf contended that the Americans had left the bases in 2006.

US drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan have caused hundreds of civilian casualties and have fuelled anti-American sentiments.

Islamabad has repeatedly called on the US to halt drone attacks on Pakistani tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

Public anger is running high against the strikes and there are no signs that the US will stop the attacks despite Pakistan's protest.

Pakistan has recently demanded that the United States steeply reduce the number of CIA operatives and halt drone attacks on its soil.

Meanwhile, reports say US President Barack Obama has rejected Islamabad's call for more transparency regarding CIA operations in the country.

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