Wednesday May 26 2021
Web Desk

PM Imran Khan will never allow handing over Pakistani bases to US: FM Qureshi

Web Desk
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Photo: File

  • FM Qureshi rejects speculation of Pakistan providing US its military or air bases. 
  • Qureshi says PM Imran Khan will not allow drone attacks to take place in Pakistan. 
  • Parliamentarians condemn Israel for its aggression. 
  • "Pakistan is in safe hands," says FM Qureshi. 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will neither provide its military or air bases to the US nor permit it to conduct air strikes within the country, said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. 

This was said by the foreign minister as he wrapped up his speech in the Parliament on Tuesday, after giving Pakistan's policy statement on the Israel-Palestine tensions. 

Speaking about recent reports doing the rounds on media after a US official's comment, the minister said Pakistan, under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, would never provide its bases to the US. 

The remarks came after a Pentagon official said that Pakistan had allowed the US military to use its airspace and given ground access so that it could support its presence in Afghanistan. 

Qureshi said Islamabad would neither ever allow drone attacks to take place inside Pakistan. 

“I want to assure the House that Pakistan is in safe hands,” he remarked.

Responding to the concerns of a senator, the foreign minister said, “Because what we were fearing and we still fear and are concerned that a vacuum created in Afghanistan can drag or suck the country back into the decade of 1990s". 

The minister explained that as the US planned to move out of the country by September 11, Pakistan would continue playing its role as a mediator in the conflict to ensure peace in Afghanistan. 

Speaking on the Palestine issue, the minister said the first goal of ceasefire had been achieved, but added the UN Secretary General had been asked to play his role for a permanent solution to the problem for durable peace in the Middle East. 

Earlier, PPP leader and former Senate chairperson Raza Rabbani called on Muslim countries to impose an economic boycott on Israel for its blatant terrorism. He demanded Muslim countries ban Israel's tourists and put economic curbs on the country. 

Making an emotional speech during the debate on Palestinians massacre at the hands of Israel, Rabbani said he always thought Israel controlled Gaza but today he realized that Israel controlled all Muslim countries except Gaza. The PPP leader highlighted that it is also essential that given their differences, Fatah and Hamas must come to a common understanding against Israeli expansionism. 

He concluded by saying that the people of Pakistan stand with the people of Palestine and Intifada. Rabbani said Pakistan should not allow the United States the use of its air and ground facilities for action in Afghanistan and an international mechanism be thrashed out to prevent such circumstances from happening again.

Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan lashed out at Israel as well, saying that Pakistan's policy was crystal clear and that recognising Israel was not possible under any circumstances. 

He also added that there would be even no thought of recognizing Israel unless and until, an independent Palestinian state was established with Jerusalem as its capital. 

Dr Musadik Malik of PML-N said how can there be equality between Imam Hussain (RA) and Yazid. 

“If today, you will not fight for the Palestinian children, then it will be your children's turn (tomorrow) while Kashmiri children are already being massacred in Indian occupied Kashmir,” he warned.

Pakistan to continue to provide air, ground access

The foreign minister's clarification comes in response to Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Affairs, David F Helvey's briefing from a couple of days ago in which he told US lawmakers that Pakistan will continue to provide air and ground access to the US.

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 had said.

He had 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.

In response to another question by Senator Manchin about how the US administration would ensure that terrorists do not return to Afghanistan, Helvey had said: “We will have to work with our local and regional partners, and we want to continue developing those capabilities and those partnerships to be able to ensure that we have the right of framework to address the threats.”