Pakistan halts NATO supply routes, demands end of drone strikes, after friendly fire

The recent NATO airstrikes against Pakistani troops is the latest, and perhaps most violent breach of Pakistani sovereignty. Coming on the heels of the incursion that killed Osama bin Laden, the strikes will plunge US-Pakistan relations even further into crisis. It is unlikely that the two countries will cut their ties, however, since both ‘need’ each other. About half of ISAF supplies are routed through Pakistan, and in turn, Islamabad receives billions of military aid from Washington.

NATO helicopters and fighter jets attacked two military outposts in northwest Pakistan Saturday, killing as many as 28 troops and plunging U.S.-Pakistan relations deeper into crisis.

Pakistan shut down NATO supply routes into Afghanistan – used for sending in nearly half of the alliance’s land shipments – in retaliation for the worst such incident since Islamabad uneasily allied itself with Washington following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Islamabad also said it had ordered the United States to vacate a drone base in the country, but a senior U.S. official said Washington had received no such request and noted that Pakistan had made similar eviction threats in the past, without following through.

Reuters

According to Dawn, Shamshi air base — which Islamabad has threatened to close within 15 days, is not crucial to the US drone strikes. Pakistani airspace is crucial, however, and there are currently no signs that the Pakistani government will block US access.

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