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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistani PM: US drones don't use air bases

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, July 3, IRNA -- Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Sunday said that his government has never allowed the United States to use Pakistani air bases for strikes by its spy aircraft in the tribal regions.

Gilani's fresh statement came amid controversy about the use of Shamsi airbase in southwestern Balochistan province as local media has reported that the US had been using the air base for drone strikes.

Pakistan Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said last week that Islamabad has asked the US to vacate the Shamsi air base. An unidentified American official in his reaction rejected Pakistan's call for leaving the air base and that the air base is not being vacated.

Pakistani Air Chief told the joint session of the parliament in May that Shamsi air base has been leased out to the UAE and Pakistani media later reported that the UAE has allowed the US to use it for strikes by spy planes.

'My government has not allowed the US to use Pakistani air bases for drone strikes,' Prime Minister Gilani told reporters in the eastern city of Multan in Punjab on Sunday.

'The former government of President Pervez Musharraf had allowed the US to use the air bases for reconnaissance purpose,' the Prime Minister said.

The unmanned aircraft regularly fire missiles into Pakistani tribal regions despite public opposition by Pakistani leaders but the CIA has ruled out change in the policy and insists that it is useful to eliminate al-Qaeda and Taliban.

To a question about tension along the border with Afghanistan, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan has lodged protest with the Afghan government over recent incursions by the militants into Pakistani territories from Afghan soil.

Pakistan army says that militants from Afghan soil have launched five attacks on border checkpoints in the Pakistani territories in a month killing nearly 50 soldiers and injuring around 80 others.

Afghan authorities allege that Pakistani forces have recently fired hundreds of rockets and artillery shells into eastern Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, causing civilian casualties.

To a question about the possibility of military operation against the militants in North Waziristan tribal region, Gilani said Pakistan will not carry out operation in North Waziristan tribal region on dictations by others.

'If it is in the interest of the country we will go ahead with the plan and if it is not in our interests we will not launch any operation on others demands,' he said.

He added that the army and political leadership on the same page to deal with the issue of violent militants.

To another question the Prime Minister ruled out snap polls in the country after a key coalition partner parted ways with his government.

He said the government will complete five year constitutional term and the next elections will be held in early 2013 as per schedule.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30460077

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