The United States is using an airbase in Balochistan to launch predator strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas, British newspaper The Times has reported.
The newspaper states that it has carried out detailed investigations into the matter and all findings confirm that the CIA has control over the Shamsi airbase, located near the Pak-Afghan border.
‘Key to the Times investigation is the unexplained delivery of 730,000 gallons of F34 aviation fuel to Shamsi. Details were found on the website of the Pentagon’s fuel procurement agency. The Defence Energy Support Centre site shows that a civilian company, Nordic Camp Supply (NCS), was contracted to deliver the fuel, worth $3.2 million, from Pakistan Refineries near Karachi. Paul Smyth, head of operational studies at the Royal United Services Institute, said that 730,000 gallons of F34, also known as JP8, was not enough to supply regular Hercules tanker flights but was sufficient to sustain drones or helicopters,’ the paper said.
According to the report, a spokesman for the US embassy in Pakistan denied reports of the airfield being used as a drone base. However, an unnamed US official, familiar with operations in Pakistan confirmed the presence of drones at the base, saying that the CIA runs Predator flights routinely from Shamsi base.
Locals contacted by the newspaper were aware of the presence of ‘planes’ at the base and said the base was an out-of-bounds high-security zone guarded by local military personnel but was under the control of US forces.
The paper adds: Major General Athar Abbas, the chief military spokesman, confirmed that US forces were using Shamsi. ‘The airfield is being used only for logistics,’ he said, without elaborating. He added that the Americans were also using another airbase near Jacobabad, 300 miles northeast of Karachi, for logistics and military operations.
The base, originally built by Arab sheikhs for their personal use, is said to be perfect for use by drones given its remote location and restricted access.