The United States is rejecting demands from Pakistani officials that American personnel abandon a military base used by the CIA to stage drone strikes against suspected militants, US officials told Reuters.
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.
Earlier this week, Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar told the Financial Times that Pakistan had already stopped US drone operations there.
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.”
A senior Pakistani military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that when US forces first launched counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan “provided Americans two bases in Jacobabad and Shamsi. Jacobabad base has been vacated for long time ago, but Shamsi is still with them.”
“They are vacating it,” the official insisted. “Shamsi base was for logistic purpose. They also used it for drones for some time but no drones have been flown from there.”