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US asked to vacate Shamsi airbase by Dec 11


First published: November 30, 2011, 11:16 PM IST | Updated: November 30, 2011
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US asked to vacate Shamsi airbase by Dec 11
A letter has been sent to the US asking for Shamsi airbase to be vacated by December 11, PM Gilani said.

Islamabad: Pakistan's top leadership on Wednesday said the US had been asked to vacate Shamsi airbase, believed to be used by CIA-operated drones, by December 11 in the aftermath of a cross-border NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Prime Minister Gilani told the media in Karachi that the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee's office had sent a letter to the US asking for Shamsi airbase to be vacated by December 11.

In Islamabad, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar too said the US had been asked to vacate the airbase by the same date.

Pakistan will not compromise on its security and sovereignty and will regain control of Shamsi by the deadline, he said.

"We will take over the Shamsi base on December 11 in any case and no drone will be allowed to fly from there after the deadline," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function organised by a university.

Pakistan will review other agreements with the US in different sectors and all decisions will be taken in the national interest, Mukhtar said.

Pakistan had leased Shamsi airbase to the United Arab Emirates in 1992.

The UAE reportedly allowed the US to use the base after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Numerous reports have said that CIA-operated drones used to target militants in Pakistan's tribal belt operate from Shamsi.

Following Saturday's NATO air strike on two military border posts that killed 24 soldiers, Pakistan asked the US to vacate Shamsi and closed all NATO supply routes.

The federal cabinet decided on Tuesday that Pakistan would boycott the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan to protest the NATO attack.

Mukhtar said the government will not move back from its decision to close NATO supply routes under any circumstances as it "is an issue of our dignity".

The US could look for alternative supply routes but it would only find routes like those in Central Asian states that remained closed during winter.

"They will be forced to ask us for forgiveness, and we will then forgive them if the people say so," Mukhtar said.

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