Evicted: US starts vacating Shamsi airbase

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


Express December 04, 2011

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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COMMENTS (50)

Maddy Khan | 9 years ago | Reply

@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.

Mirza | 9 years ago | Reply

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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