The United States is preparing to accede to Pakistani demands that it vacate a remote air base in Pakistan used for drone flights, but the move is not expected to have a significant impact on operations against militants, U.S. government sources say.
Washington is treading lightly not to aggravate an already fragile relationship that was bruised further by a NATO attack on a Pakistani military outpost last weekend that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghanistan border.
Pakistan demanded that the United States leave the Shamsi Air Base within 15 days and blocked ground supply routes through Pakistan to U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Three sources, who declined to be identified because of the issue’s sensitivity, said U.S. planning is under way to leave the base, a remote facility in Baluchistan that has been a point of contention.
The cross-border incident escalated tensions between the two countries and the U.S. military is conducting an investigation to find out exactly what happened on the ground.
The moves by the Pakistanis to block ground supply routes and the air base were not expected to significantly hinder U.S. operations.
One U.S. government source said the United States has spent months preparing for a possible eviction from the Pakistan base by building up other drone launching and staging capability.