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Pakistan Boots U.S. From Drone Base

by John Reed on June 30, 2011

Speaking of drones, this is pretty interesting. Apparently, Pakistan has told the U.S. to abandon a secret desert base inside Pakistan that CIA drones fly out of. This is no doubt more fallout of the May 1 raid that killed Osama bin Laden and we’ve been waiting for something like this to happen for a while.

From AFP:

Pakistan told the U.S. to leave a remote desert air base reportedly used as a hub for covert CIA drone attacks, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar was quoted by state media as saying June 29.

His remarks are the latest indication of Pakistan attempting to limit U.S. activities since a clandestine American military raid killed Osama bin Laden on May 2 and plunged ties between the anti-terror allies into chaos.

“We have told (U.S. officials) to leave the air base,” national news agency APP quoted Mukhtar as telling a group of journalists in his office.

Images said to be of U.S. Predator drones at Shamsi have been published by Google Earth in the past. The air strip is 560 miles southwest of Islamabad in Baluchistan province.

A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman told AFP there were no U.S. military personnel at the Shamsi base.

This last line may be the key to seeing that this is simply political theater on Pakistan’s behalf. The very next sentence indicates that Pakistan is demanding the U.S. leave a base that it has already evacuated.

CNN reported in April that U.S. military personnel had left the base, said to be a key hub for American drone operations, in the fallout over public killings by a CIA contractor in Lahore and his subsequent detention.

So we left one, fairly small, base in the middle of nowhere. However, 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.

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