Pakistan Expels U.S. Air Force from Airbase in Baluchistan

Pakistan has demanded that American authorities vacate the airbase in the province of Baluchistan within 15 days, reports The Associated Press in connection with the official announcement of the Emergency Defense Committee, headed by Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The eviction of the U.S. Air Force from the airbase in Baluchistan, presumably used to launch unmanned drone aircraft, came in response to the earlier NATO helicopter attack against the Salala checkpoint in the area of Baizai, in the Mohmand tribal area, about 2.5 kilometers from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. As a result of the attack, 28 Pakistani soldiers were killed and 11 wounded.

Earlier on Saturday, Nov. 26, Pakistani authorities closed the northwest portion of the border to NATO military transports, in particular the control point at Jamrud. Thus, Islamabad has blocked supplies to NATO’s Afghanistan contingent in the northwest of the country. Remember, more than 70 percent of [NATO’s] logistical supply crosses Pakistan to reach international coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan.

Moreover, the acting Pakistan ambassador to the U.S., Ms. Iffat Gardezi, lodged a protest with the U.S. State Department in connection with the attack.

According to Brigadier-General Carsten Jacobson, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), it is “highly likely” that responsibility for the attack on Pakistan’s army border post falls on NATO air forces. The Commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, offered heartfelt condolences to the relatives of those who died or were wounded as a result of the alliance’s air attack.

As previously noted, the current incident could lead to a serious worsening of American-Pakistani relations. Tension emerged between Islamabad and Washington after U.S. Special Forces conducted an operation on Pakistani soil in May of this year, resulting in the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The operation was conducted without the sanction of Pakistani authorities. NATO informed Islamabad of the special operation after the fact.

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