Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pakistan-based US drones ‘nothing new’

* Excerpts from news reports reveal Predators have operated from Pakistan for years

Karachi: Contrary to the impression being created by the media and the Los Angeles Times in particular, the fact that Predator drones were based in Pakistan has long been public, a US-based website has claimed.

The blogger points to the following news stories accessible on the Internet:

New York Times, 6 November 2002: “In any offensive against Iraq, the air force would probably use Predators flying from Ali Al-Salem Air Base, Kuwait, military officials said. The Predators flying over Afghanistan have operated from an air base in Jacobabad, Pakistan.”

CNN, 1 January 2003: “In a separate development, a US surveillance plane crashed on Wednesday in southern Pakistan, shortly after takeoff. There were no injuries or damage on the ground.”

“Jacobabad police chief said the drone crashed about seven kilometers from Jacobabad because of technical reasons.”

RAND Corporation report, 2004: “Pakistan provided the US access to numerous military bases and helped establish facilities including Intermediate Staging Bases at Jacobabad, Pasni, Dalbandin and Shamsi; Predator basing at Jacobabad and Shamsi, and access to other bases used by over 50 aircraft and 2,000 coalition military personnel at these locales.”

Washington Post, 27 March 2008: “Musharraf, who controls the country’s military forces, has long approved US military strikes on his own. But senior officials in Pakistan’s leading parties are now warning that such unilateral attacks – including the Predator strikes launched from bases near Islamabad and Jacobabad in Pakistan – could be curtailed.”

The News International (Pakistan), 27 October 2008: “In the early days of our entering the US “war on terror”, we offered certain bases of which Jacobabad had been apparently returned over two years ago. As for the Shamsi base in Balochistan where there are Predators, one can assume that the US would find it tempting to target Iran from this prime location.”

The Wikipedia entry on Jacobabad reads: “Pakistan agreed to an American request for a long-term, logistics and support base at the Shahbaz Air Base in Jacobabad following 9/11. The US forces, mainly from its air force, were stationed there from October 2001 to November 2004. Units active during this period included a Predator UAV squadron, a C-130 airlift squadron, a CSAR detachment, and associated support units.”

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