Never allowed US to use Pak airbases: Pak PM

Yousuf Raza Gilani said his govt had never allowed the US to use Pak airbases for drone strikes in the tribal region.

Updated: Jul 03, 2011, 22:40 PM IST

Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani on Sunday said his government had never allowed the US to
use Pakistani airbases for drone strikes in the tribal region,
adding another twist to the controversy between the two
countries over the CIA`s unmanned spy plane campaign.

"My government has not allowed the US to use Pakistani
airbases for drone strikes," Gilani said during an interaction
with reporters in his hometown of Multan in Punjab province.

Responding to a question, he said, "The previous
government of President Pervez Musharraf had allowed the US to
use airbases for reconnaissance purposes."

Gilani`s statements came amidst a controversy over
Shamsi airbase in southwestern Balochistan province, which the
US has reportedly been using for drone flights.

Since the 1990s, the airbase has been under the
control of the United Arab Emirates, which has given the US
access to it.

Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said last week
that Pakistan had asked the US to vacate the Shamsi airbase.

However, unnamed US officials have told the Western
media that the airbase is not being vacated.

They also said that American personnel were still
stationed at the airbase though drone flights from Shamsi had
been suspended since April.

Adding to the confusion, Information Minister Firdous
Ashiq Awan on Friday cast doubts on the remarks attributed to
Defence Minister Mukhtar.

"It`s just a statement for the media," she said.

She claimed the matter had not been discussed in
meeting of the government’s defence committee.

PTI