Canada seeks Pakistani bases after eviction by UAE

Canada, which has been using Camp Mirage near Dubai for the past seven years as a forward base for its troops in Afghanistan, is being kicked out next month for refusing to accommodate the UAE demand for more flights by its airlines into Canada.

UAE airlines Emirates and Etihad, which fly six times a week to Toronto, have been seeking to increase the frequency and inclusion of Vancouver and Calgary as their other destinations in Canada.

But Ottawa turned down the demand after protests by Air Canada which said there is not much traffic between the UAE and Canada, and that the two emirate airlines are instead using Dubai and Abu Dhabi as stopovers to ferry passengers to and from third countries.

Reports here said Wednesday that Canada made the request to Pakistan several months ago, prior to its sudden eviction from the Dubai base.

"They want to use our military infrastructure to remove their troops and supplies from Afghanistan,'' the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) quoted as a source in Pakistan's foreign ministry as saying.

According to the source, the Pakistani government will consult the powerful military leadership before deciding on Canadian request.

Mian Gul Akbar Zab of the Pakistani high commission in Ottawa was quoted as saying that talks have been ongoing to use ports in Karachi to ship out thousands of containers of non-sensitive material by Canada.

"I don't see a hitch there. Nothing has been finalized as yet,'' the Pakistani diplomat was quoted as saying.

Pakistan remains the fourth biggest source of immigration for Canada.

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