Pakistan: US must vacate base following deadly air raid

Student supporters of Islami Jamiat Talaba, a student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, hold a banner while protesting against NATO forces in front of a burning tyre in Lahore 26 November 2011. (Photo: REUTERS – Mohsin Raza)
Published Sunday, November 27, 2011
The Pakistani government has told the US it must leave the Shamsi airbase, in Balochistan province, within 15 days following a NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and injured 13 others, according to Pakistan’s military.
Protests erupted across Pakistan after the cross-border strike prompted the government to close a vital supply route to US-led occupation forces in Afghanistan and summon the US ambassador in Islamabad.

“Cross-border raids have happened before and everything returns to normal, what the military should do is listen to the people and stop all involvement with the Americans. No one in Pakistan supports this military cooperation,” said novelist and political analyst of Central Asia Tariq Mehmood Ali.
NATO and US forces share the Shamsi airbase, where they service drones, and rely on two border crossings for supplies reaching occupation forces in Afghanistan. As the largest NATO member, the US ships 30 percent of its supplies through Pakistan.

This is not the first time Pakistan has reacted to the violation of it airspace and attacks on its soil. In September 2010, NATO attacks killed what it claimed were 50 Taliban fighters and two Pakistani soldiers and led the government to close the border for two days.

As the US increases drone attacks and NATO forces enter Pakistani airspace tensions continue to rise threatening and already fragile cooperation between the US and Pakistan, and increased outrage across the country that the government may not be able to ignore.
(al-Akhbar, Reuters, AP, Al Jazeera)

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