Prime Minister Imran Khan has categorically said that Pakistan would “absolutely not” allow any bases and use of its territory to the US for any sort of action inside Afghanistan.
“Absolutely not. There is no way we are going to allow any bases, any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not,” the prime minister told Axios on HBO in an interview.
In an excerpt of the interview, to be aired on Sunday, on the Axios website, the interviewer Jonathan Swan had questioned, “Would you allow the American government to have CIA here in Pakistan to conduct cross-border counterterrorism missions against Al-Qaeda, ISIS or the Taliban?”
Surprised over his clear-cut response of “absolutely not”, the interviewer interrupts the prime minister to reconfirm his words asking, “Seriously?”
Axios on HBO is a documentary-news programme that combines the reporting of Axios journalists with the expertise of HBO filmmakers to explore the collision of tech, media, business, and politics.
The series has featured interviews with former US president Donald Trump, Sundar Pichai, Elon Musk, Mary Barra, now US President Joe Biden, Andrew Yang and Kamala Harris, among others.
Recently, in his address in the Senate, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi ruled out the possibility of providing military bases to the United States for counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.
He rejected as unfounded the reports to this effect and made it clear that the government would never provide military bases to the US, nor would allow drone attacks inside Pakistan.
In a cabinet briefing, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain also ruled out the possibility of any airbase of the United States in Pakistan saying all such facilities were under Pakistan’s own use.
He said it was the PTI-led government that ended ‘drone surveillance’ facility given to the US in the past.
“All the airbases are under the use of Pakistan. Right now, no negotiations in this regard are underway as Pakistan cannot give any airbase [to any country],” he said.
The CIA Director William Burns had visited Islamabad secret and was firmly told that Pakistan would not host the spy agency’s drone bases on its territory.
This was revealed in New York Times article published on June 6 claimed that Burns had travelled to Pakistan for meetings with Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hamid to explore the possibility of counterterrorism cooperation between the two sides.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is said to be looking for bases around Afghanistan from where it could gather intelligence on Afghanistan and execute counterterrorism strikes after the completion of troop withdrawal from there.
Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, in response to a question about the US seeking a drone base in Pakistan, said: “We have had constructive discussions in the 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 rises or any other terrorist group can attack the United States.”