Pakistan Boots U.S. From Drone Base We Weren’t Using Anyway
Our good ally Pakistan has publicly ordered us to leave a base used for "covert" CIA drone attacks.
Our good ally Pakistan has publicly ordered us to leave a base used for “covert” CIA drone attacks.
Declan Walsh, The Guardian (“Pakistan orders US out of drone base“):
Pakistan has stopped US drone flights from a remote airbase in the western province of Balochistan and ordered US personnel to vacate it, the defence minister has said.
“We have told them to leave the Shamsi airbase,” Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said on Wednesday night, adding that US personnel had already started to shift equipment from the base.
A US embassy spokesman declined to comment, referring queries to Washington.
Shamsi is located in a remote valley 350 miles south-west of Waziristan, where most of the CIA-directed Predator and Reaper drone strikes against al-Qaida and Taliban targets take place.
The closure of the base is a blow to a covert programme that has killed up to 2,500 people since its inception seven years ago and forms a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s strategy to flush al-Qaida from its Pakistani havens.
The US insists it will press ahead with the strikes. In unusually direct comments, Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said on Wednesday that the US would continue to “deliver precise and overwhelming force against al-Qaida” in the tribal areas.
The attacks are likely to continue from CIA bases in Afghanistan – the latest took place on 20 June in Kurram tribal agency. A senior Pakistani military official said the US had not used Shamsi for “several months” and was already flying drones across the border.
Additionally, Defense Tech‘s John Reed contends that this is likely mere “political theater,” noting that, not only is the base in question likely already abandoned but “U.S. personnel are have been rumored to be operating out of at least two other Pakistani air bases including one near Ghazi and another at Jacocobad known as PAF Base Shahbaz.”