QUETTA: The last cargo aircraft to take back American personnel and equipment from Shamsi airbase sits on the tarmac in Washuk district, watching the Balochistan Frontier Constabulary takeover the vacated guard positions as the clock ticks down to the eviction deadline, now only hours away.
Express News on Saturday reported that Pakistani security forces had reached the base along with Civil Aviation authorities. As the security of the base was taken over by the Pakistanis, the aviation officials surveyed the base, now largely bereft of Americans, including drones.
Sources say that much of the cargo and drones had been shifted to Afghanistan and the eviction is due to be complete when the deadline expires tomorrow.
Pakistan had served a 15 day notice to US to pack up and leave the air strip, located some 300 km south of Quetta, Balochistan. The decision came after a NATO air strike on a Pakistani border post killed at least 24 soldiers, wounding a further 12, on November 26. Pakistan told US to leave the base, suspended fuel and other supplies through land routes, and pulled out from border coordination centers.
The Shamsi base, initially leased to the government of UAE in 1992, had been given to the US after it started Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in late 2001. US publicly says it uses the base for refuelling and running maintenance on its surveillance drone. However, it is believed that the US has also operated armed versions of its drones from the same air strip to attack targets in Afghanistan, and even in Pakistan.