The issue concerning the vacation of Shamsi air base is the major subject of discussion these days. The Defence Minister Ch Ahmed Mukhtar recently asked the US authorities to vacate the air base. Refusing to do so the US has stated that while they suspended the drone flights from this base three months back, the current drone flights were taking off from Jalalabad (Afghanistan). It may be noted that military bases are awarded to foreign powers on contract carrying specific terms and conditions. So we have to bear with the Americans till the contract expires but not at the cost of our sovereignty, and the lives we are losing on account of these attacks. From where the drones operate is immaterial. It is the damage they are causing to the lives and properties of inhabitants of our tribal areas which is the cause of concern. From the military point of view I feel that the American strategy of launching drone attacks against the terrorists is wrong. The Taliban are not fighting a conventional war so as to be vulnerable to air attacks. They are fighting a guerilla war in which small groups of armed fighters keep moving in search of suitable targets. If the Americans think that they can eliminate or deter the terrorists from launching suicide attacks or bomb explosions here and there by drone attacks they are mistaken. Terrorism can be encountered more effectively through ground operations than by air. My analysis of the whole issue indicates that America has lost much more than it has gained by launching drone attacks. They do not realize that the terrorists positions not clearly identifiable, the drone attacks cause much more damage to the locals of the area than the terrorists. Since the people of those areas lose their near and dear ones in drone attacks, a strong anti-America feeling has cropped up among them. The situation coupled with some other factors having caused a little slump in the Pak-US relations the United States is planning to divert its supply caravans to Afghanistan through the Central Asian states which is said to cost them many times more than the Pakistan route. Keeping aside some recent incidents and negative attitude of some political elements I feel the long standing relationship between Pakistan and the USA is eternal. The misunderstandings must be cleared and the US authorities again requested to stop the drone attacks so as to redress the grievances of the people of our northern areas. Without their cooperation and help the operations against terrorists cannot be successful. RAFI NASIM, Lahore, July 6.