By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has stopped all US operations from the Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan, an airport which was given to American forces for use after 9/11 and drone attacks were launched from the base on targets in the tribal areas, military sources have confirmed. It was also used extensively in 2001 when thousands of US sorties took off to bomb Afghanistan a few weeks after the 9/11 attack in New York.
As the relations between Islamabad and Washington have strained due to latter’s mounting interference and repeated breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty, the US Embassy spokesman, Alberto Rodriguez, confirmed that there are no US forces at the Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan.
Pakistan Air Force (PAF) spokesperson, when approached about his version on the vacation of US forces and the deadly drones from Shamsi airfield, explained that the airfield does not belong to the PAF while the Pakistan Army sources confirmed that the airfield was free from the American forces.
No one was prepared to share with The News the dates or the time period when the Shamsi airfield was vacated by the Americans although the sources insist that it is a recent development.
Almost a year back, Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar spoke on the topic of the Shamsi Air Base confirming that it was being used by American forces for logistical purposes but, he added, the government was not satisfied with payments for the use of the facility.
Mukhtar, however, did not go into the nature of airfield’s use by the American forces. Prior to Shamsi, Pakistan had also got vacated from the US forces the Jacobabad Air Base and Pasni, which were used for its operations in Afghanistan.
The US has been using the Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan province to station unmanned Predator drones that have been used to attack terrorist targets inside Pakistan’s tribal areas. Shamsi airfield, also called Bandari, is a small airfield and air station located about 200 miles southwest of Quetta near the town of Washki.
In 2009, media reports revealed that the airfield was used by the United States Central Intelligence Agency as a base for Predator drone attacks on so-called militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas but ended up killing several hundreds innocent people. On January 9, 2002 a US Marine Corps KC-130 aircraft reportedly crashed on approach to Shamsi. All seven crew members were killed in the crash.
In February 2009, The Times of London had announced that it had obtained Google images from 2006 which showed Predator aircraft parked outside a hangar at the end of the runway of the Shamsi airfield. Before that, a US Senator Dianne Feinstein said that the CIA was basing its drone aircraft in Pakistan. The US company Blackwater was also reported to have a presence there, hired by the government to arm the drones with missiles.
It was General Musharraf who had permitted the US to use its airbases not only to attack Afghanistan but also to launch drone attacks on the people of Pakistan in the name of the so-called war on terror. The present regime also continued with Musharraf’s policies and allowed much larger number of drone attacks than before.
WikiLeaks had revealed that Prime Minister Gilani had endorsed the drones’ policy. Gilani was reported to have even said to the US officials that his government would raise hue and cry over these drone attacks for the sake of countering the public pressure.
However, of late and after the Raymond Davis episode, things became extremely tense between Washington and Islamabad with the CIA insisting to carry on with its operations, including the drone attacks inside Pakistan, while the ISI is adamant to restricting the Americans from crossing the red-line.
People in Pakistan are requested to join it and those who are not are requested to support it in whatever way they can.
Thousands of Innocent Pakistanis have been killed in these illegal attacks and these attacks are resulting in more and more terrorism and extremism in the country. This war is a fake war only innocent deaths and human rights violations are real and all is being done for the interests of few controlling this world. Pakistan army and government are playing the role of mercenaries on the payroll of their foreign masters and all their condemnation of these attacks is fake.
We also urge the justice and freedom loving people to support the cause of humanity.
I am really sick of these pathetic occupied armed forces who just know how to control power, kill their own people, suppress their own people and serve their foreign masters and thier greed.
Likewise, the BU students were warned of expulsion in case they participated in protests or expressed solidarity with the outspoken professor. The BU main gate was closed to stop the students from going out. Nevertheless, the bravos not only showed up in a reasonable strength but also resolved to do so again on Tuesday when the sacked professors would deliver lectures on the roadside on the issue of leadership. The BU Rector, vice admiral (retd) Haroon, has meanwhile left for Hong Kong on vacation, as the situation grew tense in the university. Registrar of the university, retired commodore Mumtaz Raza, was called several times, messages were dropped, requesting for his version on the conflicting situation but he did not return the calls.
Dr Shafqat who earned doctorate in management sciences is only 32 years old but has authored three books and 50 research articles in international journals. He returned to Pakistan last year with a passion to serve his country after teaching in reputed UK universities for eight years where he was inducted into the academic staff at the age of 23 after earning distinctions in post-graduation.
Dr. Shafqat, who heads the department of Management Sciences, was expecting this showdown for a long time as he confronted the university administration on a number of occasions. Now when the administration decided to sack Professor Qamar Riaz, the termination letter was to be served through him. And he refused.
Instead, he asked for a proper inquiry to establish Qamar Riaz’s guilt. It was not done and the professor was roughed up and later sacked. It followed the termination of Dr. Shafqat. Interestingly, the sacked professors are regular employees and no notice was served nor any inquiry ordered into their conduct.
As Dr Shafqat had to attend the protest rally on Monday, he was passing through the F-8 Markaz for some business and was surrounded by two cars. “Do you know who we are?” said the sleuths as they came out of the cars, Dr. Shafqat told The News. “I got the point that they were 7-9 persons of Naval Intelligence.” They had him locked in there until the protest was over.
Dr. Shafqat has been at unease with the university’s administration since he joined it. First, he refused to keep three children of Navy officers in MBA classes, as they did not fulfil the admission criteria. Dr Shafqat had refused to take them notwithstanding the fact they were already granted admission by the registrar’s office, he told The News.
“The Registrar said we have to enrol the scions of Navy officers. I said, OK but you will have to devise a policy. Then that was never done but the pressure always keeps mounting.”
Likewise, Dr. Shafqat refused to take into the faculty a female teacher, the daughter of a serving rear admiral, and he was then put on warning: “You will face the consequences.” He also faced the wrath of the administration when he bluntly refused to comply with a wish list also including a Naval officer who desired to be inducted into the faculty when he was already taking classes at the same department. Dr. Shafqat said that he had also taken up the issue of the harassment of female students by some officials of the administration. The female students submitted a written application, naming the officers who harassed them. “As I took up the issue, the administration reprimanded me for doing this”, Dr Shafqat said.