The curious tale of America’s Predators in Pakistan

February 21, 2009

America’s deadly Predator unmanned planes won’t go away from the skies above Pakistan’s troubled northwest, and the controversy over whether these aircraft operate from Pakistani soil only gets more intense.

Following a U.S. senator disclosure that the drones, which have wrecked such havoc and are the cause of much popular anger against the United States, were being flown from within the country, Pakistan’s The News conducted its own investigation.

It has found old Google earth satellite pictures from 2006 showing U.S. drones parked on a runway whose coordinates 27 degrees 51 minutes north, 65 degrees and 10 minutes east place it in Baluchistan.

While the paper identified the three robotic planes parked on the runway as the massive Global Hawks, the specialists over at Danger Room say they are more likely to be the Predators that the United States has come to rely upon heavily on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Britain’s Times also said it had a copy of the Google image showing drones outside a hangar at the edge of a runway whose coordinates placed it in Pakistan.

Predictably the reaction has been intense inside Pakistan which has long chafed at the strikes seen as violating its sovereignty. 

Pakistan’s Teeth Maestro said it was a shocking discovery in a post headlined “Drones parked in our own backyard, to bomb our own people.” Chowrangi, another blog on Pakistan, said another lie had been nailed and there was no knowing how many more were on the way.

Pakistan has denied any of the U.S. drones were flying from Pakistani bases and has repeatedly called for an end to strikes carried out by them.

But is there more trouble ahead for the government ?

[Photos of U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke with Pakistan PM Yousaf Raza Gilani and a protest in Lahore against U.S. missile strikes]

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