Pakistan to not allow US bases on its soil after Afghan pullout
Islamabad, May 11 (EFE).- Pakistan said on Tuesday that it will not allow the presence of United States’ military bases or troops on its soil after the US pullout from Afghanistan, set to be completed by Sep. 11, the 20th anniversary of Washington’s invasion of the country.
“We have no intention of allowing foreign troops on ground. No foreign bases will be here in Pakistan,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a press conference in Islamabad.
However, he did reiterate Islamabad’s support for the Afghan peace process.
“We will be partners in peace and are playing a role as a facilitator,” the minister said.
The last phase of the withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan officially kicked off on May 1 and is scheduled to be completed by Sep. 11, the deadline announced by Washington for removing troops from Afghan soil.
Therefore, speculation has been rife in recent months over the possibility of Pakistan hosting US military bases in the region.
US President Joe Biden had even discussed this option during his 2019 electoral campaign.
“We can prevent the US from being the victim of terror coming out of Afghanistan by providing for bases – insist the Pakistanis (to) provide bases for us to airlift from and to move against what we know,” Biden said in an election debate in September 2019.
However, Pakistan has been unwilling to host US troops over the past decade.
The last major American air base on Pakistani soil, situated in Shamsi in the western Balochistan province, was evacuated in 2011 after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a NATO bombing.
Islamabad had ordered the base to be shut down after the incident.
Ties between the two countries were not at their best during former president Donald Trump’s tenure, after he cut security aid to Pakistan in 2018 over Islamabad allegedly failing to act against terror groups.
The picture is still not clear over ties under the new US administration. Biden has not yet called Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on phone, unlike other leaders, and contact between the two countries remains at a minimum. EFE