LAHORE, PAKISTAN – The confirmation Wednesday that Pakistan allowed the CIA to build a secret airbase in southern Pakistan to launch drone attacks inside Pakistani territory has lifted the lid on what had become an open secret in official circles.
It is likely to infuriate opposition groups, as well as embarrass the Pakistani government. For months, it’s been on the defensive over the continued airstrikes, as the Monitor reported in November. Islamabad has repeatedly pleaded with the US to stop the politically sensitive drone attacks, which have killed more than 150 people since August. As recently as last week, Pakistani government officials let it be known that an end to Predator drone operations topped the wish list that they handed to US special envoy Richard Holbrooke during his visit here last week. Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi denied two days ago that drones were being launched from Pakistani territory.