Monday May 24, 2021
WASHINGTON: Pakistan has played an important role in supporting the peace process in Afghanistan, according to a top Pentagon official.
Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Affairs David F Helvey made this statement while addressing lawmakers of the Senate Armed Services Committee in the US on Saturday.
He was responding to a question from Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, about his "assessment of Pakistan" and its intelligence agencies and the role expected by both in the future.
“Pakistan has played an important role in Afghanistan. They supported the Afghan peace process. Pakistan also has allowed us to have overflight and access to be able to support our military presence in Afghanistan,” Helvey said.
He said the US will continue its conversation with Pakistan because of its support and contribution to the future of Afghanistan.
Pakistan has always allowed overflights and ground access to the US to facilitate its military presence in Afghanistan and will continue to do so, diplomatic sources were quoted as saying by Dawn.
Later in the evening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) commented on the matter to clarify that there is no US military or air base in Pakistan.
"There is no US military or air base in Pakistan; nor was any such proposal envisaged. Any speculation on this account is baseless and irresponsible and should be avoided," said the statement.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that Pakistan and the US have a framework of cooperation in terms of Air Lines of Communication and Ground Lines of Communication. He added that the framework has been in place since 2001 and "no new agreement has been made in this regard".
On Saturday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told lawmakers in New York that Pakistan was seeking a broad-based, strategic partnership with America, which would also cover Afghanistan.
He had emphasised on the need for “a broad-based strategic partnership” in the interest of both countries.
Last month, US President Joe Biden announced to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11 this year.
The US and the Taliban signed a landmark deal in Doha on February 29, 2020 to bring lasting peace in war-torn Afghanistan and allow US troops to return home from America's longest war.
Under the US-Taliban pact signed in Doha, the US agreed to withdraw all its soldiers from Afghanistan in 14 months.
There are currently 2,500 American troops left in Afghanistan, the lowest level of American forces in the war-torn country since 2001.