Pakistan says no agreement with US on use of airspace for operations in Afghanistan
Pakistan dismissed on Saturday reports of formalisation of an agreement for the use of its airspace by the United States to conduct military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan.
In response to media queries regarding latest news report alluding to formalisation of an agreement for the use of Pakistan’s airspace by the United States to conduct military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan, the spokesperson stated that no such understanding was in place.
“Pakistan and the US have longstanding cooperation on regional security and counter-terrorism and the two sides remain engaged in regular consultations,” the Foreign Office added in the statement.
The response came after CNN reported that the Joe Biden administration has told lawmakers that the US is nearing a formal agreement with Pakistan to use its airspace to conduct military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan.
Quoting sources, the report said that Pakistan has expressed a desire to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in exchange for assistance with its own counterterrorism efforts and help in managing the relationship with India.
Earlier, when the US forces were withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan made it clear that Pakistan will not give its bases to US troops for operations in Afghanistan.
“Absolutely not,” the PM said to HBO Axios’ National Political Correspondent Jonathan Swan when asked if Pakistan would allow the US government to have the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the country to conduct cross-border counter-terrorism missions against Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“There is no way we are going to allow any bases or any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not,” the PM said.
The PM’s statement came at a time when the US forces were moving closer to total withdrawal in Afghanistan, putting at unease the CIA that is reportedly looking to find new bases for its counterterrorism and surveillance operations.
The US pulled all its troops out of Afghanistan at the end of August, ending its longest war to cries of shame at home and celebratory gunfire from its victorious Taliban enemies in Kabul.
The withdrawal came just before the end of an August 31 deadline set by President Biden to call time on America’s longest war — one that ultimately claimed the lives of more than 2,400 US service members.