Senior U.S. and Pakistani officials said in interviews on Friday that CIA operations at the Shamsi air base in western Pakistan, a short distance from the Afghan border, were continuing unabated and that no American personnel had been withdrawn from the facility. The base is the hub of the CIA’s escalating campaign of drone strikes against militant leaders throughout Pakistan, a push that Obama administration officials credit with decimating the leadership of al-Qaida and many of its Islamist allies.
“It’s business as usual,” a U.S. official familiar with the matter said. “There have been no operational changes there.”
The comments contradicted earlier remarks from Pakistani Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, who told The Financial Times in an interview published on Friday that Islamabad had forced the CIA to stop using Shamsi for drone strikes and to withdraw its personnel from the facility.