US personnel begin to vacate Pakistan's Shamsi Air Base: report
According to Dawn, US personnel have begun to vacate Shamsi Air Base in Pakistan's Baluchistan province. Shamsi has been described in the past as a hub for intelligence operations as well as a base for the CIA's unmanned Predator and Reaper drones. The Pakistani government ordered Shamsi to be closed within 15 days after US forces killed 24 Pakistani troops in a cross-border incident in the Mohmand tribal agency. From Dawn:
An American aircraft arrived in Pakistan on Sunday for US nationals vacating the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan, DawnNews reported. Strict security measures were being taken place in the area and residents were told not to leave their homes.
According to sources, the process of shifting the US nationals into to the aircraft had started already. The road leading towards the airport had also been sealed for security purposes.
The impact that the closure of Shamsi will have on CIA efforts to hunt top al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in North and South Waziristan remains to be seen. The importance of the base to CIA operations has been downplayed in recent press reports.
The Pakistani government has also followed through on its threat to boycott the Bonn Conference. In addition, the Pakistani government has closed down NATO's supply lines through the Chaman and Torkham (Khyber Pass) border crossings. And the government has also said it is reevaluating its ties to the US and its support for the War on Terror.