Has Pakistan really shut US drone base?

Gen. David Petraeus, outgoing US commander in Afghanistan, and his soon-to-be successor Lt. Gen. John Allen met with top military leaders in Pakistan July 14 to try to resolve tensions that have escalated since the May 2 slaying of Osama bin Laden. The visit comes after the US put on hold some $800 million in aid and reimbursements to Pakistan’s military in response to the cancellation of visas for US military advisors. Pakistan also publicly called a stop to US drone flights from Shamsi airbase near Quetta in Baluchistan province. However, drone strikes have continued, with some 42 killed in strikes July 11-2 in North and South Waziristan. The US is said to fly drones out of two other Pakistani air bases—one near Ghazi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province) and another at Jacocobad (Sindh province) known as PAF Base Shahbaz. The CIA also flies drones into Pakistan’s tribal areas from Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. In an implicit acknowledgment that drone strikes will continue, White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said in response to Islamabad’s decision, “In some places such as the tribal regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, we will deliver precise and overwhelming force against al-Qaeda.” (AP, July 14; VOA, July 12; NYT, July 9; Wired, July 1; Defense Tech, Miami Herald, June 30; FT, June 29)

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