America uses Pakistani Airbases to strike at Pakistan’s Citizens

Asian Leader By Majed Iqbal- What has been speculated by many and under denial for years by the previous Musharraf government and now the new Zardari government has now come to surface. Pakistani soil and airspace has and is still being used by America to launch strikes both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.

American driones use Pakistani bases for strikes in Pakistan

The US was secretly flying unmanned drones from the Shamsi airbase in Pakistan’s south western province of Baluchistan as early as 2006, according to an image of the base from Google Earth.

The image, that is no longer on the site but initially obtained by The News, Pakistan’s English language daily newspaper, shows what appear to be three Predator drones outside a hangar at the end of the runway. The Times also obtained a copy of the image, whose co-ordinates confirm that it is the Shamsi airfield, also known as Bandari, about 200 miles southwest of the Pakistani city of Quetta.

The newspaper also revealed the key to its investigation was found on one of the Pentagon’s own websites, which showed the delivery of 2.7 million litres of aviation fuel to a remote airstrip known as Shamsi – but no explanation of why. According to The Times, the Defence Energy Support Centre site shows that a civilian company, Nordic Camp Supply, was contracted to deliver the fuel, worth $US3.2 million, from Pakistan Refineries near Karachi.

Pakistani government officials have for long been in denial that any such occurrences are taking place, especially after drones have been used nearly five times since the new American President, Barack Obama has stepped into office.

The new evidence confirms an open secret that the democratically elected Zardari-led PPP Government has not only been tacitly approving the attacks but in fact has been in direct partnership with the US in the bombing its own citizens.

In Swat alone at least 1,200 civilians have been killed and as many as half a million have been forced to flee their homes as a result of this ‘undeclared war’. Many of those killed have been civilians including women and children.

The new director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, suggested that the US would continue attacks on Pakistan, despite the large number of civilian casualties.

“Nothing has changed our efforts to go after terrorists, and nothing will change those efforts,” Panetta said in response to questions about the CIA drone attacks.

The United States claims it had told Pakistan the drones using Pakistani bases are surveillance drones, according to Pakistani intelligence and diplomatic officials, and not the Predator drones that launch missiles into the tribal areas in a campaign targeting al Qaeda leaders.

Privately, though, Pakistani officials doubt that claim, especially after the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., suggested some days ago that the CIA Predator drones do indeed use Pakistani airfields and not necessarily Afghan airfields, as most assume.

Major-General Athar Abbas, Pakistan’s chief military spokesman, admitted that US forces were using Shamsi, but only for logistics. He also said that the Americans were using another air base in the city of Jacobabad for logistics and military operations. Pakistan gave the US permission to use Shamsi, Jacobabad and two other bases – Pasni and Dalbadin – for the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.

The ‘official protests’ which the Zardari Government has routinely lodged against the US has seemed to have been a tactic merely to pacify domestic public opinion which is questioning the sovereignty of the Pakistani government in tackling its own affairs.

Time and time again Pakistan has been drawn into a quagmire by outside forces which has threatened its own stability as a nation. America continues to use the new government, just like the previous Musharraf government to resume its own designs in the region which is now open knowledge that a division of Pakistan is the ultimate objective.

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