US asked to vacate Shamsi airbase by Dec 11

Pak`s top leadership said the US had been asked to vacate Shamsi airbase, believed to be used by CIA-operated drones.

Updated: Dec 01, 2011, 00:10 AM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan`s top leadership on Wednesday
said the US had been asked to vacate Shamsi airbase, believed
to be used by CIA-operated drones, by December 11 in the
aftermath of a cross-border NATO attack that killed 24
Pakistani soldiers.

Prime Minister Gilani told the media in Karachi that the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee`s office had sent a letter to
the US asking for Shamsi airbase to be vacated by December 11.

In Islamabad, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar too
said the US had been asked to vacate the airbase by the same
date.

Pakistan will not compromise on its security and
sovereignty and will regain control of Shamsi by the deadline,
he said.

"We will take over the Shamsi base on December 11 in any
case and no drone will be allowed to fly from there after the
deadline," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function
organised by a university.

Pakistan will review other agreements with the US in
different sectors and all decisions will be taken in the
national interest, Mukhtar said.

Pakistan had leased Shamsi airbase to the United Arab
Emirates in 1992.

The UAE reportedly allowed the US to use the base after
the 9/11 terror attacks.

Numerous reports have said that CIA-operated drones used
to target militants in Pakistan`s tribal belt operate from
Shamsi.

Following Saturday`s NATO air strike on two military
border posts that killed 24 soldiers, Pakistan asked the US to
vacate Shamsi and closed all NATO supply routes.

The federal cabinet decided yesterday that Pakistan would
boycott the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan to protest the NATO
attack.
Mukhtar said the government will not move back from its
decision to close NATO supply routes under any circumstances
as it "is an issue of our dignity".

The US could look for alternative supply routes but it
would only find routes like those in Central Asian states that
remained closed during winter.

"They will be forced to ask us for forgiveness, and we
will then forgive them if the people say so," Mukhtar said.

PTI