‘The Shahbaz Air Base, U.S. & Hurdles in Relief Operations’ Scandal – A Comprehensive Analysis
Both U.S.A and Pakistan Air Force are Responsible for Hurdles in Flood Relief Operations
Aid workers Confirm they can not reach Half A Million Victims due to a US-related Security Cordon
Jacobabad cut-off from the rest of the Country
An Exclusive Haqeeqat.Org Analysis
By Kaswar Klasra, Ahmed Quraishi and OmEr Jamil for Haqeeqat.Org
August 20 & 21, 2010
Lahore & Islamabad, Pakistan
Pakistan Air Force arranged a hurriedly organized media tour yesterday to prove that the base is not under US control. But this does not appear to be the whole truth. Over the past eight years, Pakistan Air Force offered and withdrew different types of facilities to US military at the base. The Americans used the base mostly for logistical purposes and not to stage direct attacks against targets in Afghanistan or inside Pakistan’s northwestern region. But there were times when the number of US personnel at the base crossed 200, including special-forces operatives. According to GlobalSecurity.org, Pakistani newspaper Daily Times claimed on 10 March 2004 that the airbase was under US control, “with an inner ring of facilities off-limits to Pakistan’s military,” according to the paper. But in August 2010, there is credible information that new special residential barracks for US personnel have been constructed. Unfortunately, Pakistan has accepted to house US personnel who will ensure the country’s doesn’t ‘misuse’ the new F-16s. So despite Pakistan Air Force’s – and US Embassy’s – sharp reaction, it is clear there is some merit to the statement of Federal Health Secretary Khushnood Lashari that US presence at the base is preventing using the base for flood relief operations. Another related issue is the level of Pakistani involvement in CIA drone attacks inside Pakistan that have killed a huge number of innocent Pakistanis and turned Pakistani citizens against their country.
“Health relief operations are not possible in the flood-affected areas of Jacobabad because the airbase is with the United States,” Mr Khushnood Lashari said while answering a question asked by Senator Semeen Yusuf Siddiqui of PML-Q during an appearance at the Senate Standing Committee on Health on Wednesday.
“It is very unfortunate that Americans can launch a drone attack from Shahbaz airbase but the government is helpless even in using the country’s base for relief operations,” Senator Semeen Yusuf Siddiqui said while talking to this correspondent.
Dr Jahanzeb Aurakzai, coordinator of the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Centre, said: “Foreign health teams could not start relief operations in remote areas because there are no airstrips close to several areas, including Jacobabad.“
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman has ordered Pakistan Air Force to form an air bridge of relief supply for Jacobabad which has been cut off from the rest of the country and make operational an airfield near Sibi for immediate supply of relief goods to flood-hit areas in the vicinity. APP adds.
The floods have not only shown the ineptitude of the Pakistan government but also the confusion that prevails within government institutions. On Wednesday the Federal Health Secretary informed a Senate Panel that Jacobabad Air Base / Shahbaz Air Base was under the US control so health relief operations could not be provided.
On Thursday, the Pakistan Air Force through APP issued a strange press release stating that “certain sections of the print and electronic media have wrongly reported that the Pakistan Air Force Base Shahbaz (Jacobabad) is under the control of the US. This has been spread by uninformed people”. So was the Pakistan Air Force referring to Federal Health Secretary Khushnood Lashari as “uninformed? After all, it was he who gave out the information about the Base being under the US control and to a Senate Panel.
While the Pakistan Air Force stated that Shahbaz Air Base was under complete command and control of the Pakistan Air Force and was being used extensively for providing relief and medical care to the affected people of the area, the US embassy had already issued another interesting response to the Khushnood Lashari’s claim. On Thursday, the US press note issued from Embassy of US in Islamabad stated that Shahbaz Air Base in Jacobabad is a Pakistan Air Force Base and is commanded and operated by Pakistan Air Force forces. The base is home to Pakistan’s newest F-16 Block 52s, which arrived this summer. Pakistan Air Force personnel maintain high security standards there to ensure that the technologically advanced aircraft can be securely maintained and operated from the base. On August 18, at the request of the Pakistan government, US Air Force C-130 aircraft flew to Shahbaz Air Base from the Pakistan Air Force Base in Rawalpindi bringing urgently needed relief supplies for Jacobabad.
What was left unsaid was that it was the Pakistan Air Force that was denying all manner of access to the airbase because of the presence of US personnel who had come along with the Block 52 F-16s, which were delivered at this base and had US conditions attached to the delivery of the planes, including the presence of US personnel to “keep an eye” on how the planes were used by the Pakistan Air Force. While the Pakistan Air Force was responsible for the security of the base, it was the pressure from the US on security grounds that was preventing access to the base-even for Pakistanis who had been involved in carrying out building work at Shahbaz.
So, it appears that both the US military and the Pakistan Air Force together are responsible for the relief work hurdles as news from the ground shows that the hurdles are very much there. Hopes are fading away to provide food and clean drinking water to 500,000 to 700,000 people who have been displaced from Jacobabad, Thul, Kandhkot, Kashmore Ghouspur and Karumpur (currently camping in Dera Allah Yar) as Jacobabad was still no-go area for choppers or C-130 due to security concerns to the American personnel deployed at the Jacobabad Air Base / Shahbaz Air Base, well-informed sources told The Nation on Thursday. Organizers of national and international NGOs told The Nation on condition of anonymity, when contacted on telephone, that they could not reach Jacobabad to provide food and drinking water to as many as 500,000 to 700,000 flood victims due to strict security conditions adopted for Shahbaz Air Base. Although Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman has ordered Pakistan Air Force to form an air bridge of relief supply for Jacobabad which has been cut off from the rest of the country and make operational an airfield near Sibi for immediate supply of relief goods to flood-hit areas in the vicinity, however, Jacobabad is still the only location in Pakistan where rescue choppers of Pakistan Air Force have no access to carry out relief operations.
The sources told this scribe that foreign health teams could not start their relief operations in remote areas because there are not airstrips close to several areas, including Jacobabad. The town has been evacuated and 500,000 to 700,000 people have been affected. The people displaced from Jacobabad, Thul, Kandhkot, Kashmore, Ghouspur and Karumpur are camping in Dera Allah Yar.
Earlier, it was reported that Shahbaz Air Base was under control of American personnel who were guarding the air base while monitoring the operations of F-16s against militants and extremists in FATA and Waziristan. As one seeks to discover the reality on the ground, the flood-stricken people of this devastated area of Sindh continue to suffer.
Self Explanatory Reports of Asian Human Rights Commission:
It is reported in the media that relief operations for around 700,000 persons could not be carried out because an airbase in Jacobabad district, Sindh province, is controlled by the US forces. The US forces denied permission for the air strips to be used to deliver much-needed relief to the adjoining areas which are submerged in water and where 700,000 people are trapped. As there is no other air strips in the vast area close to Jacobabad and its adjoining areas, the authorities are finding it difficult to drop the relief in the flood-affected areas.
According to the Daily Dawn, the largest circulated English newspaper, Khushnood Lashari, the health Secretary during an appearance at the Senate Standing Committee on Health, revealed that health relief operations are not possible in the flood-affected areas of Jacobabad because the airbase is under the United States control. The coordinator of the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Centre, Dr Jahanzeb Aurakzai, told the standing committee of the Senate that foreign health teams could not start relief operations in remote areas because there are no airstrips close to several areas, including Jacobabad.
Jacobabad and its neighbouring areas have been evacuated and 500,000 to 700,000 people have been affected. People displaced from Jacobabad, Thul, Kandhkot, Kashmore, Ghouspur and Karumpur are camping in Dera Allahyar, Balochistan province.
The Jacobabad airport was leased to the US forces at the start of war on terror to provide air facilities to the US forces including fuelling and stopovers. Since then it has been treated as an exclusive base for US forces. In one case, two journalists of a television channel when visiting the Jacobabad airport in 2006, were arrested and tortured severely for many months for making a story on the airbase.
Please see the urgent appeal for Mukesh Rupita and Sanjay Kumar of Geo Television: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2006/1801/
Asian Human Rights Commission Further Confirms That:
Drone jets are also flown from Jacobabad Air Base / Shahbaz Air Base to attack suspected militants and their strong holds inside Pakistan and Afghanistan killing hundreds of suspected militants.
After the refusal of US-controlled air base to provide assistance in the provision of relief to the affected persons of the worst floods in the history of Pakistan, the Pakistan Air Force is trying to form an air bridge of relief supply for the victims in Jacobabad. Nevertheless, at a time where road transportation is impossible, the denial of permission to use Jacobabad Air Base / Shahbaz Air Base to reach out to the victims has undoubtedly slowed down the process, while aid is urgently needed as food get scarce and children are falling sick due to lack of drinkable water. The longer it takes for the aid to reach the affected families, the higher the toll in human lives will be.
It is very regrettable and ironic that a country cannot use its own air strips at the time of a natural disaster of such scale that it was qualified as ‘the worst I have never seen’ by the UN Secretary General. The leasing of the airbase commenced when there was a military government but when a civilian government came into power with the vote of people, the US forces have not deemed it necessary to ask the permission from the civilian power to maintain control of the air base. The behavior of US forces is no different to that of a colonial power and this comparison is all the more relevant as they are not prepared to help the 700,000 victims who are facing hunger, water born diseases and are lying under the sky without shelter.
The United States pride themselves of being the country who has pledged the highest amount of aid to Pakistan since the beginning of the flooding but are de facto creating obstacles to the distribution of foreign aid to flood-affected. This news comes only a few days after a speech given at the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of Pakistan’s independence in which the President of the United States asserted that ‘we will remain committed to helping Pakistan and will work side by side with you and the international community toward a recovery that brings back the dynamic vitality of your nation’. It seems difficult to understand how less efficient disaster relief will reinforce the vitality of Pakistan.
The US justifies their presence in the country by the necessity to fight terrorism and act in favour of the stability of the region. Throughout the history of the US war on terror and of their presence in Pakistan and in Jacobabad in particular, the US has looked down on the necessity to eradicate the root causes of terrorism and anti-American feelings in the region, which could have been achieved by valuing such things as the sovereignty of the people, the respect of human rights and humanitarian laws or the emphasis put on bringing assistance to the people. Those elements are necessary to guarantee the much-valued ‘stability’ of the country. Unfortunately, keeping control of an airbase in another country without having received the explicit approval of a democratically-elected government, using this airbase to conduct extrajudicial executions of suspected militants and not authorising the authorities of this country to use this airbase at a time of major natural disaster therefore slowing down the transportation of food and medicine to dying children, is point by point at odds with those principles.
This is the worst kind of arrogance shown by the US forces at the time of the worst kind of disaster faced by the poor people. If US forces are afraid of anything then they should control the relief operations in the areas of Jacobabad Sindh and Dera Allahyar, Balochistan province.
After almost ten years of the unsuccessful fight against terrorism, the US forces should understand that allowing foreign aid to reach those in dire need as soon as possible should be a priority not only for humanitarian reasons but also to ensure the security of the US forces there.
Google Earth Reveals Secret History of US Base in Pakistan: Shamsi Air-Base (February 19, 2009 report)
The US was secretly flying unmanned drones from the Shamsi airbase in Pakistan’s south-western province of Baluchistan as early as 2006, according to an image of the base from Google Earth.
The image was obtained by The News, showed what appear to be three Predator drones outside a hangar at the end of the runway. The Times also obtained a copy of the image, whose co-ordinates confirm that it is the Shamsi airfield, also known as Bandari, about 200 miles southwest of the Pakistani city of Quetta.
An investigation by The Times yesterday revealed that the CIA was secretly using Shamsi to launch the Predator drones that observe and attack al-Qaeda and Taleban militants around Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.
US Special Forces used the airbase during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, but the Pakistani Government said in 2006 that the Americans had left and both sides have since denied repeatedly that Washington was using Pakistani bases.
Dera Allah Yaar Drowned to Save Jacobabad Shahbaz Air Base: 17-08-2010
Former Prime Minister Mir Zafar Ullah Khan Jamali said that in order to save Shahbaz Air Base, Jamali Bypass was demolished and Dera Allyar was drowned; however he also said that Federal Minister Ejaz Jakharani was a liar.
Talking to a PakistanNews, former Prime Minister said that nobody has so far contacted him and no aid has also reached to him till now. Despite of orders given by Corps Commander Quetta for halting the demolishing of Bypass, the water was still spilled by cutting the bypass and drained into Dera Allaj Yaar, he added. This action was forcefully implemented under supervision of PPP’s Federal Minister Ejaz Jakharani even after civil administration, DPO, DCO and himself reached the site. Mir Zafar Ullah Jamali also said that when Shahbaz Air Base was being constructed, at that time DCO Jacobabad. (Admin Note: This story was later covered with mainstream Pakistani media, check out the video here)
Hell Was Produced to Save U.SC Colony at Jacobabad (Shahbaz Air Base): 17-08-10
JAFFARABAD— after causing vast flood devastation in Baluchistan’s District Jaffarabad, thousands of families are trying to flee by every available mean of transport to take refuge in other places on Monday. The flood flow from Jacobabad, after creating havoc in Jaffarabad’s District Headquarter Dera Allah Yaar, has hit Usta Muhammad and Gandakha.
According to details, after overflowing from the Jamali Bypass, flood water has entered Goth Jamali, ex Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali’s village and Kashmore Kot. Approximately 13,000 rural houses of Dera Allah Yaar have been devastated by the flood. The Deputy Commissioner of Jaffarabad, Dr. Ahmad Jamali, told that flood water has entered into thousands of houses in Sohbatpur, Usta Muhammad and Gandakha. People have been instructed to vacate these areas immediately.
The flood water has also damaged railway track and national highway and consequently the road and communication links of Jaffarabad have been cut from Sind and Punjab. Due to the scarcity of food items, people of Jaffarabad have been afflicted by famine while the Jamali Bypass is submerged in flood water.
Millions of internally displaced people (IDPs) of Dera Allah Yaar and various areas of Sindh have taken refuge in Sibbi and Dera Murad Jamaali and are passing a miserable life under open.
The recent high flood in Sindh has disconnected land link between Balochistan and Sindh as Indus highway become inundated here on Monday while, the land route to provide relief goods to Jafferabad and Naseerabad cannot be used now. The floodwater was closing in on various areas in Sindh and Balochistan on Monday land link between Sindh and Balochistan has disconnected and relief goods are being supplied through helicopter service.
The aging waters from the Indus River continued to inundate more villages and towns across the country. After causing havoc in Jacobabad the flood waters forced thousands of people climbed onto rooftops to save their lives as in Dera Allah Yar. Authorities are trying to evacuate or warn people in Rujhan Jamali, Nasirabad, and Usta Mohammad.
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