US claims Drones flown from a Pakistani base, Pak denies

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Washington, Feb.14 (ANI): A top US official has revealed that the unmanned Predator aircrafts which have been targeting militant hideouts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan, are flown from an airbase inside Pakistan's territory.

Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, said CIA's unmanned aircrafts are being operated from an airbase inside Pakistan.

"As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base," The Daily Times quoted Feinstein, as saying.

This is probably the first time that a US official has disclosed about the drone's operational activities (landing and take-off).

Later, Feinstein's spokesman said her comments were largely based on news reports which said the Predators were operated from bases near Islamabad.

Islamabad has been asking US to suspend the drone attacks in the tribal region on the plea that they are proving counter-productive in the 'war on terror'.

The latest disclosure by Washington has caught Pakistani authorities off-guard, which have long denied that they ever granted US the permission to fly and operate the Predator planes from its territory.

It has also conducted jirgas with the tribal leaders showing concern about the attacks and lodging protest saying the missile hits were violating its sovereignty.

However, Pakistan Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar has refuted claims of the US official saying the drones are being flown from outside Pakistan's territory.

"We do have the facilities from where they can fly, but they are not being flown from Pakistani territory. They are being flown from Afghanistan," Mukhtar said.

He said the authorities were unaware as what prompted the US Senator to say that Pakistani airbases are being used.

"I do not know on what she (Dianne Feinstein) based all this," Mukhtar said. (ANI)

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