Saturday, June 19, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has clearly said that Pakistan will not give its bases to the US for operations in Afghanistan after the latter's troops' withdrawal.
In an interview with Jonathan Swan of HBO Axios, which will be aired Monday 3:00am PST, the premier reiterated Pakistan’s stance on the use of military bases and categorically stated that Islamabad will not allow it.
The US is in talks with Pakistan and other regional countries for cooperation in future operations in the war-torn country to keep a check on militancy.
However, the country has conveyed to Washington that it is not possible.
The prime minister was again asked by the US media for his comments on giving access to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to military bases.
“Will you allow the American government to have the CIA here in Pakistan to conduct cross border counter-terrorism missions against Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban?” Swan asked the premier.
“Absolutely not,” PM Imran Khan responded.
“There’s no way we're going to allow any bases or any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not.”
In an interview with Geo News earlier this month, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had said Pakistan wants a stable Afghanistan, but there are some elements who do not want peace in the region.
The FM had categorically stated that Pakistan has refused to give military bases to the US and added that he had told all the political parties in a briefing that they have no such intention.
"Search for bases could be their wish. There's no question of giving them bases, we have to see our interest."
Qureshi was responding to a report by the New York Times which said that negotiations with Pakistan had reached an "impasse" for now.
“Some American officials said that negotiations with Pakistan had reached an impasse for now. Others have said the option remains on the table and a deal is possible,” the NYT report had stated.
The publication said that the rapid withdrawal of US troops has left the agency [CIA] seeking ways to maintain its intelligence-gathering, war-fighting and counterterrorism operations in the country.
Earlier, in a press briefing at the White House, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had said that they had constructive discussions through military, intelligence, and diplomatic channels with Pakistan about the future of America’s capabilities to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a base from which al Qaeda or ISIS or any other terrorist group can attack the United States.
“But in terms of the specifics of what that will look like, that will have to remain in those private channels as we work through them,” he had said without sharing further details.
Sullivan had said they are talking to a wide range of countries about how they build effective, over-the-horizon capacity, both from an intelligence and a defence perspective, to be able to suppress the terrorism threat in Afghanistan.