Pakistan’s foreign minister confirmed that his country refused to give any military base to the US for monitoring Afghanistan after foreign forces’ withdrawal from Kabul, local media said on Tuesday.
Speaking to Geo News, a local broadcaster, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said his government, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, has no intention to give its military bases to Washington.
“Search for bases could be their wish. There’s no question of giving them [US] bases, we have to see our interest,” Qureshi told the local broadcaster.
Qureshi was responding to a recent report by The New York Times, citing American officials as saying that “Pakistan wants to allow US access to a base as long as it can control how it is used”, adding that “public opinion in the country has been strongly against any renewed presence by the United States.”
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 US daily said in its report published on Sunday.
The report also claimed that CIA Director William J. Burns made an unannounced visit in recent weeks to Pakistan, where he had met with the country’s military and intelligence chiefs. However, there is no official word from Islamabad so far.
Last month, Qureshi told the country’s upper house of the parliament or Senate that there will be no American base on Pakistan’s soil.
“We will not allow the kinetic use of drones, nor are we interested in monitoring your drones. This a very clear-cut policy of this government,” the top diplomat maintained.
“Forget about the past,” he added, referring to the reported establishment of a US base in Pakistan during the Cold War against the former Soviet Union and later during the so-called war against terrorism in Afghanistan. However, Pakistan later closed those bases for the US military.
According to the US media, after Pakistan’s refusal, Washington is exploring options to get bases in Central Asia near the Afghan border. However, Russia could oppose this.
Last month, Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said that Central Asian neighbors Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will not allow Washington to establish military bases on their soil.
US forces’ early withdrawal from Afghanistan
US President Joe Biden has set a Sept. 11 deadline for all American forces to leave Afghanistan with the exception of a handful that will be tasked with securing Washington’s embassy in Kabul.
However, The New York Times in its report said that the military pushes to have all forces out by early to mid-July as Americans will celebrate July 4 as their Independence Day.
On April 27, the US State Department also issued a new travel advisory for Afghanistan and urged all Americans who wish to depart the country to do so immediately, citing coronavirus, crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping and armed conflict.
Last week, Central Command (CENTCOM) said they have completed 44% withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the advancing Taliban on Monday claimed to have captured two more districts in the southern and central parts of Afghanistan.
Earlier, on Saturday, the Taliban claimed to have overrun at least five districts in various parts of the country amid escalating violence.
However, the Afghan Defense Ministry dubbed it as a strategic retreat to avoid civilian casualties in the area.