Saturday, January 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pak asks USA to vacate airbases

Washington, January 11
Much to the disquiet of the USA Pakistani forces have moved its air assets and bombers to two of their four airbases given to the US military for war in Afghanistan, following heightening tension on the Indo-Pak border.

“It was such an emergency situation that the Pakistan Air Force was ordered to move straight into the airports while discussions with the US officials on this subject were held later,” the Washington Post quoting a senior Pakistani official said. “We are now co-sharing the two air bases with American forces.”

“As the Indian and Pakistan air forces moved their ground attack aircraft to forward bases early this month, the Pakistan Air Force, which earlier vacated and gave the Jacobabad and Pasni airbases to the Americans, sent a number of its fleet to the two airports much to the disquiet of US military officials”, Pakistan daily ‘The News’ reported.

The report, quoting senior Pakistani military officials, said Pakistan had requisitioned the two airbases but quickly moved a number of its bombers and air assets to them to co-share the ground facilities with the US troops.

The senior Pakistani military official told the Post that the two bases were partially reclaimed by Pakistani forces before formal notice had been given to the USA.

One reason for that rushed movement, he said, was that Pakistani officials realised they had incorrectly assumed that the US military presence in Pakistan would force India to restrain its military mobilisation.

A three-star US General confirmed that account to the Post saying “there’s been some talk of that.” But he also said the USA need for the bases was waning.

“As we continue to improve the capabilities of the airport at Kandahar, staging from other bases in Pakistan might be less of a requirement for us,” he said. “In other words, we could fly from other places directly into Kandahar.”

According to the Post, a senior Pakistani military official said late last month, that the bases that it was using in Jacobabad and Pasni might be needed to put the Pakistan Air Force on a war footing.

But Asad Hayauddin, a spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, denied that any Pakistani military aircraft were moved.

Rather, he said, his government notified the USA late in December that if hostilities broke out with India, the Pakistani military planned to move forces onto some of the bases currently being used by the US forces.

Tension between the two South Asian neighbours reached a new peak last month after India accused two Pakistan-based Islamic militant groups of carrying out a terrorist attack on its Parliament House on December 13. PTIBack


USA steps up vigil

New York, January 11
Amidst reports of rising tension along border between India and Pakistan and growing chances of a military conflict, the USA has intensified surveillance in the region for evidence whether the two countries were deploying their nuclear arsenal.

The US National Security Staff is reviewing a stream of intelligence reports suggesting that tension along “Indo-Pak” border is rising and that chances of a military conflict have grown considerably, the New York Times reported today.

“We are significantly more worried today than were several days ago,” a senior member of President George W. Bush’s National Security Staff was quoted as saying.

Another unnamed official said the CIA and the National Security Agency were intensifying their surveillance of the border area and looking for any evidence that the two sides were putting their nuclear arsenals on alert.

“So far there is no evidence of that,” he said.

Officials, The Times said, noted that neither India nor Pakistan “seems to have a great grasp of the other’s doctrines or limits.” PTIBack

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