Pakistan ends U.S. use of base for drone attacks - FT

SINGAPORE Thu Jun 30, 2011 11:40am IST

Lt. Col. Geoffrey Barnes, Detachment 1 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Attack Squadron commander, performs a pre-flight inspection of an MQ-1B Predator unmanned  drone aircraft in this file image from September 3, 2008. REUTERS/Christopher Griffin/Handout/Files

Lt. Col. Geoffrey Barnes, Detachment 1 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Attack Squadron commander, performs a pre-flight inspection of an MQ-1B Predator unmanned drone aircraft in this file image from September 3, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Christopher Griffin/Handout/Files

Related Topics

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Pakistan has stopped the United States from using an air base in the southwest of the country to launch drone strikes against militant groups, the defence minister was quoted as saying, as ties remain strained between the two countries.

Pakistan has long publicly opposed the missile attacks as a violation of its sovereignty, but has in private given support including intelligence to help target members of al Qaeda and the Taliban in the northwest region along the Afghan border.

The Financial Times quoted Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar as saying that Pakistan had ended U.S. drone flights out of Shamsi base in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, long reported to have been used for the covert war against militants.

"No U.S. flights are taking place from Shamsi any longer. If there have to be flights from the base, it will only be Pakistani flights," Mukhtar told the newspaper.

Ties between the countries, strained since the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA agent in January, suffered a further setback after U.S. SEALs killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a secret raid last month that Pakistani officials said further breached its sovereignty.

Pakistan's army has drastically cut down the number of U.S. troops allowed in the country and set clear limits on intelligence sharing with the United States, reflecting its anger over what it sees as continuing U.S. interference in its affairs.

Washington had been asked to remove all its infrastructure from the Shamsi air base, the Financial Times cited an unidentified Pakistan official as saying. The official, though, said, no drone flights had taken off from the base since 2009.

Since U.S. President Barack Obama took office, drone strikes have been stepped up, focussed on the Waziristan region in northwest Pakistan, a hub for militants from around the world.

These attacks have further intensified since bin Laden's killing which reinforced suspicion in the United States that elements of Pakistan's security establishment may have helped hide him.

(Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani; Asia Desk + 65 6870 3815)

FILED UNDER:

Sony Cyber Attack

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ten Years On

Ten Years On

10 years on, tsunami warning stumbles at the "last mile".  Full Article 

Exit Polls

Exit Polls

BJP unlikely to form Jammu & Kashmir govt - polls.  Full Article 

Forceful Conversions

Forceful Conversions

BJP distances itself from religious conversions.  Full Article 

Hopeful Dhoni

Hopeful Dhoni

India's new vintage nearly ready, says Dhoni.  Full Article 

Photo

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Ali Hospitalized

Ali Hospitalized

Boxing great Muhammad Ali hospitalized with pneumonia.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage