WASHINGTON/ LAHORE: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Thursday said news of Pakistan demanding the United States exit Shamsi Airbase was bogus and had been created by the media, Express News reported.
Speaking to the media in Lahore, Awan said that she was a member of the Defence Committee and nothing of this sort was discussed during the meeting.
Earlier this week, Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar told the Financial Times that Pakistan had already stopped US drone operations there.
The minister also told a group of journalists in Islamabad that it was time to review anti-terror cooperation with the US.
“We have told them [US officials] to leave the airbase,” APP quoted Mukhtar as saying.
On Thursday, Mukhtar told Reuters: “When they (US forces) will not operate from there, no drone attacks will be carried out.” He said Islamabad had been pressuring the US to vacate the base even before the May 2 commando raid in which US Navy SEAL commandos killed Osama bin Laden. After the raid, Mukhtar said, “We told them again.”
Reuters reported the United States had rejected demands from Pakistani officials that American personnel abandon the military base used by the CIA to stage drone strikes against suspected militants.
US personnel have not left the remote Pakistani military installation known as Shamsi Air Base and there is no plan for them to do so, said a US official familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive material.
“That base is neither vacated nor being vacated,” the official said.
The information was confirmed by a second US official. The US declaration that drone operations in Pakistan will continue unabated is the latest twist in a fraught relationship between security authorities in Washington and Islamabad, which has been under increasing strain for months.
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