Washington, May 17 : Belying Pakistan's claims that it won't allow any foreign troops to operate from its soil, it has been learnt that two airstrips - one near Wana and the other near Nokundi (both tribal areas bordering Afghanistan), are for the exclusive use of the US for security operations in Afghanistan and the Tribal Areas, and that they were not under the direct control of either Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), or the Pakistan Air Force.
The two airstrips, which can hold large aircraft, lack the any customs or immigration, health, animal and plant quarantine facilities or an Airport Security Force.
Besides another airfield at Dalbandin is one of three Pakistani bases used by the US and allied forces to support the 'Operation Enduring Freedom' campaign in Afghanistan, the Daily Times quoted a report published by Globalsecurity.org.
The other bases at Jacobabad and Pasni are far more distant from the Afghan border, and are used for logistical support, it added.
The Dalbandin base is relatively remote and is in a province where many Pakistanis share ethnic and religious kinship with the Taliban. In late December 2001, Pakistan notified the US that the bases at Jacobabad and Pasni might be needed by the Pakistan Air Force, in the wake of rising tensions between India and Pakistan. Therafter, the facilities were partially reclaimed by Pakistan, and as of early January 2002, both Pakistani and American forces were operating at the two airfields.
The US military retained exclusive use of the Dalbandin and Shamsi bases, and by March 2004, there were reports of increased US operations in Pakistan. Two air bases - Dalbandin and Shahbaz - were the focus for extensive movements to provide logistical support for Special Forces and intelligence operations, said the report.
Dalbandin airstrip was constructed in 1935 to serve as a satellite of the Samungli Air Base at Quetta. During the Second World War, it was made operational by the RAF to meet a possible Russian invasion through Iran. In the 1970s, Dalbandin was a disused airfield before it was taken over by the CAA in 1985. It was then provided with modern navigational aids, air traffic control facilities, passenger terminals and a paved runway.