WHO owns Pakistan? Successive administrations have evoked the idea of the country's sovereignty, loudly decrying perceived transgressions. What is the citizenry to think, then, when it finds that land and assets have been passed into the effective control of foreign powers? On Friday, parliament was informed by the deputy chief of air staff that Balochistan's Shamsi airbase has been operationally controlled by the UAE since the 1990s. It was from here that the US drones took off. No doubt it was the sheer enormity of the Osama bin Laden debacle that forced the military to make this admission; otherwise, it is unlikely that the citizenry or its representatives would ever have known. The idea of Pakistani soil being leased out to foreign operators is not new. Last August, a senior health ministry official informed a Senate Standing Committee on Health that flood relief operations in Jacobabad were not possible because the only airbase was under use of the Americans. For some time there were suspicions that floodwaters had been diverted to save the Shahbaz airbase. The PAF later reiterated that the airbase was under its control and the few Americans present there were providing technical assistance. Nevertheless, the murkiness remained. Similarly, in 2009, there were reports that the federal investment ministry had given the green signal to the federal food and agriculture ministry to offer Arab countries about one million acres in Sindh on lease for cultivation. This plan reportedly failed on account of the worsening security situation.

Where, then, does that leave the country's sovereignty? There can be reasonable grounds to put land under the operational use of a foreign power, such as political expediency or earning. If so, the administration ought to take the citizenry into confidence. Shady deals serve no purpose but to raise suspicions. It is important for the administration to clarify its position.

Opinion

Editorial

Debt trap
Updated 30 May, 2024

Debt trap

The task before the government is to boost its tax-to-GDP ratio to the global average by taxing the economy’s untaxed and undertaxed sectors.
Foregone times
30 May, 2024

Foregone times

THE past, as they say, is a foreign country. It seems that the PML-N’s leadership has chosen to live there. Nawaz...
Margalla fires
30 May, 2024

Margalla fires

THE Margalla Hills — the sprawling 12,605-hectare national park — were once again engulfed in flames, with 15...
First steps
Updated 29 May, 2024

First steps

One hopes that this small change will pave the way for bigger things.
Rafah inferno
29 May, 2024

Rafah inferno

THE level of barbarity witnessed in Sunday’s Israeli air strike targeting a refugee camp in Rafah is shocking even...
On a whim
29 May, 2024

On a whim

THE sudden declaration of May 28 as a public holiday to observe Youm-i-Takbeer — the anniversary of Pakistan’s...