Following the publicized lack of an Obama apology for the airstrikes which ended in the friendly-fire death of 24 Pakistani soldiers, the U.S. is vacating a drone base in Shamsi base in Pakistan--a move that sounds way more serious than it actually is. "In another sign of deteriorating relations with Pakistan, the United States is vacating an air base used to launch American drones in response to Islamabad’s request following an incident in which NATO forces killed 24 Pakistani soldiers," reports Politico. Politico's read of "deteriorating relations with Pakistan" echoes a worrisome tone that's been applied to the U.S.-Pakistan fallout over the death of those soldiers and the ensuing political dance between the two. And this action, vacating a drone base, does sound awfully serious and grand on paper since we're in a war where we heavily depend drones to pressure Taliban forces. But, also on paper, it seems like the drone base isn't that essential kind of drone base. The Shamsi air base, notes the AP and Politico, "is located in southwestern Baluchistan province, is only used for services drones that had mechanical or weather troubles and vacating it is not expected to significantly effect drone attacks in Pakistan." And CNN adds that the U.S. may have already been on our way our prior to this attack, since in April, a senior Pakistani intelligence official told CNN that U.S. military personnel would be leaving the base amid a public furor over U.S. drone attacks that had killed Pakistani civilians. Which all makes sense since just last week, The Dawn, a Pakistani paper, noted that Shamsi wasn't crucial to American air raid operations. "Shamsi is a nice thing to have, but it’s not critical to drone operations. They can be carried out from bases in Afghanistan,” Bruce Reidel, a former CIA officer, told The Dawn. So just to be clear, the U.S. is falling out with its non-ally ally over not-so-friendly friendly fire, issued a non-apology apology to said non-ally, and now is firmly complying with Pakistan's firm request to leave a drone base that the U.S. has never really been firm on or intent on having--which all proves that being friends with U.S. or Pakistan means having to do a lot of unfriendly things.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.