Evicted: US starts vacating Shamsi airbase

Published: December 4, 2011

Aircraft lands in Pakistan to fly US nationals from Shamsi airbase in Quetta back to America.

Aircraft lands in Pakistan to fly US nationals from Shamsi airbase in Quetta back to America. Shamsi airbase has been used as a key launch pad for drone strikes. PHOTO: EPA/FILE

ISLAMABAD: American aircraft reached Pakistan on Sunday to airlift US nationals who are vacating the Shamsi airbase in the Washuk district of Balochistan, military authorities confirmed to The Express Tribune.

“Two US aircraft landed at the Shamsi airbase today (Sunday) to airlift personnel and equipment ahead of the December 15 deadline set by the Pakistan government for vacating the facility,” an official of the Balochistan government confirmed to The Express Tribune.

Sources said the passengers were shifted to the plane amidst strict security. Officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were also present at the site, Express News reported. Additionally, equipment was loaded onto the aircraft, while drones stood in nearby hangars.

Residents living around the area were told not to leave their homes while the American nationals were being shifted to the aircraft.

The base was in use of the United Arab Emirates rulers, who used to visit Pakistan for hunting, until the catastrophic attacks of 9/11 on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon. After Pakistan’s joining the US-led war on terror, the base was given to the American military as part of logistical support.

However, Pakistan demanded that the US leave the remote airbase and blocked ground supply routes to US forces in Afghanistan, following the Nato air raids on military outposts on November 26 that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The controversial airbase, located about 300 kilometres from Quetta, has been used as a key launch pad for drone strikes in Afghanistan and allegedly also for those carried out in Pakistan’s own tribal areas.

This is the third time Pakistan has demanded the US to vacate the base. Similar demands were made after CIA operative Raymond Davis killed two Pakistanis in Lahore and in the aftermath of the unilateral US raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

One US government source earlier told The Express Tribune that the US has spent months preparing for a possible eviction from the airbase by building up other drone launching and staging capability.

Earlier this year, after the US raid that killed bin Laden, some Pakistani officials demanded that Washington vacate the Shamsi facility.

At the time, however, US officials said that American personnel would remain at the base and would continue to conduct drone flights.

US officials had acknowledged that this time Pakistan appears much more resolute about carrying out the eviction threat.

Vacating the airbase was seen more as an inconvenience rather than a critical blow to drone operations, which the US also conducts from Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (50)

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Dec 4, 2011 - 2:28PM

    The Government of Pakistan was supposed to get the Shamshi airbase vacated from US long time back.

    There was no need to wait for the tragic incident to occur to demand for vacation of Shamshi airbase.

    Our army should occupy it once and for all and no one should be allowed to use the airbase except the government itself.

    I am expecting that with the vacation of Shamshi airbase, there will be no more drone attacks on Pakistan, otherwise Pakistan Airforce shoot them as soon as US violate Pakistan’s airspace.

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  • Dec 4, 2011 - 2:46PM

    who will vacate jacobabad, pisni, shahbaz airbases?

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  • S!D
    Dec 4, 2011 - 2:58PM

    @ Ali
    they are left to be vacated for the future incidents like this from US and Nato against pak army.funny but true!

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  • A. Aftab
    Dec 4, 2011 - 2:59PM

    Mohammad Siddiqi, are you sure that PAF would be able to shoot down anything, before somebody higher up takes rishwat again, and allows the US free reign over our territory?

    This thing sounds like a typical muslim country problem……..No control over your own country.

    When will Pakistan Government stops taking rishwat from the West and stop killing its own people? is the question you should be asking.

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  • A. Aftab
    Dec 4, 2011 - 3:01PM

    Ali…….forget these bases, when will these guys vacate our whole country?

    When will our begherat Government stop taking rishwat and crumbs from these Western terrorists?

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  • Bangladeshi
    Dec 4, 2011 - 3:11PM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui: The drones can be easily shoot down using surface to air missiles & you don’t need PAF for such tasks. But do your army & political leadership have the spine to shoot these robotic drones?Recommend

  • Sayed Badshah
    Dec 4, 2011 - 3:23PM

    Vacating Shamsi base is a good omen in common sense.Apparently it can be called an achievement of Pakistan to have forced the American for evocation.But what is the guarantee of the future ? Will this departure change the mindset of the Obama administration or is it the part of the tacit deal between Pakistan and American officials?It is also possible that the shifting airbase may need not more operational activities from the location.They might be changing only the plan.

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  • Dec 4, 2011 - 3:44PM

    That is good news……indeed.

    Next should be Shahbaz Airbase Jacobabad and others………………..

    Next should be scores of CIA operatives spread in Islamabad and elsewhere in Pakistan. They must be apprehended and sent back to their place of birth with wasting much of time.

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  • arsh
    Dec 4, 2011 - 3:45PM

    If pakistan has to show real strength then lets see how long we manage to stop their supply lines. Shamsi base was already of no use to them for last few months. This actions seems to be a simple eye wash for public consumption. Our fool public would be made happy, while for sure we would open all supply lines and would get subservient to them. Our leaders know to shed crocodile tears when their status is endangered. Recommend

  • jaawed khan
    Dec 4, 2011 - 3:50PM

    strong textthe vacation of Shamsi air base is no doubt a brave act of current government but it is not supposed to be the ultimate solution to respond the constant pressure of Americans on Pakistan sovereignty pressurising Pakistan’s Government as well as Military to do more.Actually the facts are very very horrible. If we really want to get rid of American menace then we should be ready to make some courageous decisions.First Pakistan should stop begging from Americans or their partners, world bank,IMF or e.t.c.And the second courage which is required to retaliate illegal aggression of American’s Drone to hunt down the plane as they enter in the territory of Pakistan.Since it is understood that without begging our beggar Governments can not keep their existence.And secondly the hands those have historical practices of making salutes of respects to the American Generals, how these hands can rise for their punishments.

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  • Shameel Baloch
    Dec 4, 2011 - 3:51PM

    @Ali:

    Get your facts right. Firstly, Shahbaz airbase and Jacobabad airbase are the same. The only Americans at PAF Shahbaz are Lockheed Martin technicians who are training PAF technicians on the Block 52 F-16s that Pakistan recently purchhased. US is not conducting any operations from PAF Shahbaz. Also, there are no US personnel in Pasni.

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  • arsh
    Dec 4, 2011 - 3:52PM

    @Ali Siddiqi: .. . . . . . They are vacating the base that was of no more use to them, while retaining Shehbaz, pasni and jacobabad.

    @Bangladeshi .. . . . .. . To shoot the drones, you dont need expensive anti air missiles. Cheap anti air guns are good enough for them. But govt of pakistan has not placed any anti aircraft gun at the afghan border to avoid any casuality to expensive drones. You tell me what is more expensive, US drone, or a muslim blood. Surely, depends on your nationalilty, and your department. For our govt and army, sure US friendship is dearer than dirty cheap muslim blood

    Good luch to all muslims

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  • IFTI
    Dec 4, 2011 - 3:54PM

    Govt off Pakistan has not got political will but Pakistan Army has got the power.When this power will be used when US invades the country.shame on the present govt off Pakistan.i

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  • biryani
    Dec 4, 2011 - 4:17PM

    is it vacating or moving to another place :) strategically better located ;) n more importantly not as public as shamsi

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  • LOK
    Dec 4, 2011 - 4:30PM

    So what? They will fly drones from Afghanistan or elsewhere. This is a joke.

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  • FactChek
    Dec 4, 2011 - 4:32PM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:

    Owned by UAE so so expect F-16 E/F’s on the base along with C-130 transport. Just in case you didn’t know UAE has defense treaty with India. UAE is out get Pakistan otherwise why would they have a defense treaty with India?

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  • It Is Economy Stupid
    Dec 4, 2011 - 5:06PM

    It will be a blow to the local economy as less dollars will be spent on food, rent and bribing. Finance minister will have to find new sources of revenue as the rent cheque will not be coming from Dec 11th.

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  • Mehreen
    Dec 4, 2011 - 5:22PM

    Today should be declared yaum-e-Nijaat!

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  • A. Khan
    Dec 4, 2011 - 5:27PM

    Vacating Shamsi is a bit of a red herring being used by Zardari government. There are other bases being used by US as well, so leaving Shamsi when it was no longer a front line base makes this government appear it is doing something whereas actually it is not.
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  • k. Salim Jahangir
    Dec 4, 2011 - 5:39PM

    Hurry up ! you are already too late.

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  • Bilal
    Dec 4, 2011 - 6:19PM

    @Shameel Baloch

    US is indeed using Pasni as well. See Lt Gen Shahid Aziz’s interview on Capital Talk (search youtube), and google for images of soldiers and officers posing with american marines at pasni. Besides, US is also using ghazi airbase at Tarbela (as per ex-COAS gen aslam beg), and also a school compund in Miramshah. No wonder taliban blow up these school (which act as military bases half the time)Recommend

  • guest-worker
    Dec 4, 2011 - 6:44PM

    Check for bugs and bedbugs after they leave

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  • Dec 4, 2011 - 6:47PM

    Go Back Americans..Recommend

  • Bilal
    Dec 4, 2011 - 6:58PM

    @Shameel Baloch:
    US is indeed using Pasni as well. See Lt Gen Shahid Aziz’s interview on Capital Talk (search youtube), and google for images of soldiers and officers posing with american marines at pasni. Besides, US is also using ghazi airbase at Tarbela (as per ex-COAS gen aslam beg), and also a school compund in Miramshah. No wonder taliban blow up these school (which act as military bases half the time)

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  • Raj
    Dec 4, 2011 - 7:36PM

    Uncle Sam has plenty of other basis within the striking distance of their target areas, hence not much loss, but Kiss Goodbye to Aid soon !!!!
    Now that NATO/ISAF have clear board and they will start engaging from very different perspective too, without any further consultations with Pak Army !!!! Not that they have been talking of late anyway !!
    Get ready for some real fireworks very soon !!

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  • Nawab Raisani
    Dec 4, 2011 - 7:57PM

    Do you agree with Pakistan’s decision to not join the US-led investigation into the NATO airstrike?

    what kinde of question is this? written above by the news paper!!!!

    we would never like our soil to be used against anyone.

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  • antanu
    Dec 4, 2011 - 8:38PM

    @Raj:
    and you would welcome it…wont you? how different you are from a terrorist?

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  • ahsan
    Dec 4, 2011 - 8:41PM

    there are no US MILITARY PERSONNEL in Jacobabad… there are US civilians there which are working there on contract … and their are no operations being carried out by US from there … so vacating is not an appropriate word as we are paying them to stay over there ..

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  • Aadersh
    Dec 4, 2011 - 9:29PM

    Good riddance…

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  • Javed
    Dec 4, 2011 - 9:39PM

    @jaawed khan: It’s so easy to criticise the Government & keep castigating them as beggars and corrupt. The reality is that out of a population of 180 million there are only 1.50 million taxpayers. That is the reason why the Government has to borrow from anyone who is even half willing to lend to us. Don’t tell me that the rest of 16.50 million are corrupt politicians. They are all Pakistani citizens high on vitriolic and extremely low on substance. It time we all need to put in our own money where our loud mouths are.

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  • Raj
    Dec 4, 2011 - 10:16PM

    @antanu:
    I don’t welcome anything that takes place in this region as its all crap !!! Those who are fighting have flawed foreign policy and out of their depth !! Those who are partners, are simply insane ! While the People of the region suffer due to crises, not of their making !!!!
    So tell me ! How can anyone welcome such chaos on their doorstep or in their house??Recommend

  • A. Khan
    Dec 4, 2011 - 11:09PM

    Just been announced that Iranian armed forces have shot down a drone that crossed into their airspace. Now, how come the Iranians can shoot these down but our government just “protests” to US government ?

    I guess its not a question of can but having the will. Our two bit president… the less said about him the better.

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  • Hafeez Sheikh
    Dec 5, 2011 - 12:03AM

    @Bilal:

    US is no longer using Pasni or Ghazi (Tarbela).

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  • Saad
    Dec 5, 2011 - 12:33AM

    @Raj

    try cleaning your crap first…..we dont wanna know how and what you feel….

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  • F Khan
    Dec 5, 2011 - 1:15AM

    kick them out of every airstrip they use in our borders….

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  • haji treadstone
    Dec 5, 2011 - 2:51AM

    salaam
    it is a shame when the leaders kill their own people innocet children, mothers and fathers– at least they have found jannaat.

    The Pakistanis people voted in these current cohort of repulsive leaders.
    Vote sensibly next time round and make dua that our innocent brothers sisters and children can live a normal life.

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  • rehmat
    Dec 5, 2011 - 2:55AM

    @Javed: ” The reality is that out of a population of 180 million there are only 1.50 million taxpayers. That is the reason why the Government has to borrow from anyone who is even half willing to lend to us. Don’t tell me that the rest of 16.50 million are corrupt politicians”.

    Directionally your point is valid. But if 1.5 million people pay taxes then 178.5 million people do not pay taxes. The number 18 million assumes that Pakistani population is just 18 million – when in fact it is 10 times that much.

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  • Babloo
    Dec 5, 2011 - 3:08AM

    US needs to reduce operational dependency on Pakistan to Zero. Then it would be free to countenance the menance appropriately. As a first step, stop economically supporting it.

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  • Abdul Rahman Khan
    Dec 5, 2011 - 3:12AM

    Good boys. Hurry up. Ours is the land of purity – Pak. The sooner it gets rid of untrustworthy friends and allies THE BETTER.

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  • Samir
    Dec 5, 2011 - 4:51AM

    Yes, of course, this will solve all of Pakistan’s problems. Ahmedi’s will finally be safe, women will gain empowerment, and terrorists will disappear….Right.

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  • Syed Ahmed Hassan
    Dec 5, 2011 - 7:48AM

    If Lockheed Martin’s team is in Jacobabad Shahbaz Airbase, than who are assisting PAF techicians in Faisal Airbase, adjacent to PNS Mehran Karachi. If that is the case, than there must be Swedish technicians too in Pakistan. Don’t you think PAF needs training sessions about SAAB airplanes? I am not sure about French Agosta submarine technicians and Chinese JF-17, J-10 technicians, whether they have left the country or not.

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  • Syed Ahmed Hassan
    Dec 5, 2011 - 8:05AM

    Pakistan should have something similar to Article 146, Iranian Constitution.

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  • aceleaf
    Dec 5, 2011 - 8:12AM

    The drone program operates against battle hardend internatinal terrorists. They are deeply embeded in FATA society.

    Pakistan society, political and military leadership can not afford the economic and social cost of war. So elimination is not an option for them.

    This bunch of terrorist have long & deep affiliations with religious parties, gov’t functionries and pressure groups inside Pakistan.

    Which is why Drone is a smart option.

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  • Dec 5, 2011 - 8:14AM

    When the war in Afghanistan started the drones reach was limited relatively to today’s. Now, they can fly for much longer distances. I dont think it would affect much of US operations.

    This is an exercise to soothe Pakistani bruised ego.

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  • Maddy Khan
    Dec 5, 2011 - 9:07AM

    Its ISI Vs CIA, and not Pakistanis Vs Americans as people in both the countries are poor and under huge debts only for one reason.. War on Terror.. which should be reviewed on both sides once again!!

    Agencies play a lot of dirty games which people come to know decades later.

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  • Shafiq Nasery
    Dec 5, 2011 - 9:14AM

    Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan. what is this Pakistan a country of corrupt leaders. a terror hub. and a country where human lives are worth a penny. trust me friends by the end of 2020 there will be no Pakistan on the surface of earth.

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  • Raj
    Dec 5, 2011 - 2:45PM

    @Maddy Khan:
    Yes, they are both poor as you say, but at least US has ability to raise funds !!!
    While Pakistan will be laughed at, even in its attempts to raise funds !!!!
    US has managed to bankroll Pakistan with Aid and Assistance for past decade at least for their so called assistance in War on Terror too !!!
    Can you even imagine Pakistan assisting even its own people to have any basic social service, let alone support another nation ???
    So its obvious that there are two types of poor here !!!! One who simply begs and other who simply borrows and provides too .

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  • bangash
    Dec 5, 2011 - 8:17PM

    After 10 years of using the base to bomb terrorists in FATA even the US realizes it has to move on to another base. Thanks Pakistan Army for all its help.

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  • Mirza
    Dec 5, 2011 - 11:19PM

    Raj, please stop pretending to be a neutral authority on south asian geopolitics. Pakistanis here see through your bare faced lies. You are INDIAN to the core. So just admit it when naive non-Pakistanis ask you straightforward questions – you would LOVE to see Pak decimated, including its innocent people and its corrupt leaders. India’s relentless cold war with Pakistan because of India’s eternal bitterness at being divided is what cripples the Pakistani nation and helps the military to justify taking centre stage. Pakistani military unfortunately needs to be so large and draining of our resources in order to counter the constant threat of Indian invasion. Or were your acts of invading and dividing our nation multiple times already some kind of friendly overture that we misinterpreted all along?? Naive westerners keep telling us that India isn’t the threat – homegrown militancy is….what misinformed rubbish. Homegrown militants have NEVER even had close to enough support to muster a viable political force, compared with India’s homegrown BJP/RSS nexus, who are the MAIN OPPOSITION. Moreover homegrown militancy will be manageable again when USA leaves the region and restores a pre-9-11 situation. India has more homegrown militant problems than Pak did prior to 9-11. I suppose the passive, cuddly “democracy” of India has never held evil designs against Pakistan at all now has it?? Pak would be able to face USA alone or even India alone…..but we can’t face you both at the same time – which is the problem, and which is why we have to play a careful game. USA needs to be ousted from Afghanistan first, for our benefit AND that of the real Afghans (or should we trust the ex-communist-stooges who are in power now and have a grudge against Pakistan from the 1980′s because we helped oust their soviet allies??). Ignorant westerners needing a lesson in realpolitik should ask me, not characters like “Raj” who have an agenda and only ever pretend to care about “the region”.

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  • Maddy Khan
    Dec 6, 2011 - 8:55AM

    @Raj, you are so funny…. “but at least US has ability to raise funds ” hahahahahaha

    the way you comment showed that you have no analytical skill to understand what i wanted to say but you actually showed your hatred towards Pakistan in any possible way.

    You first ask your govt to stop being selfish and resolve the mullaperiyar dam issue to save thousands of lives at risk, dont wanna drill down much as everyone knows where you want to lead us.

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