Islamabad: The Pakistan Foreign Office on Saturday denied a media report claiming that the US is “nearing” a formalised agreement with Islamabad to allow Washington to use Pakistani airspace to conduct military and intelligence operations against Afghanistan.
The Foreign Office in a statement said that “No such understanding was in place”. The FO spokesperson, however, stressed that Pakistan and the US had “longstanding cooperation” on issues of regional security and counter-terrorism and “the two sides remain engaged in regular consultations”, the Dawn reported.
The CNN, in its report, cited three “sources familiar with the details of a classified briefing” to the US Congress, and said that the Biden administration has informed US lawmakers that the country was close to striking a formal deal with Pakistan for the use of its airspace to conduct operations in Afghanistan.
In June in an interview with Axios on HBO, Prime Minister Imran Khan had 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.
Asked whether Pakistan would allow the US Air Force to use its airspace for airstrikes against the Taliban, the Imran Khan had reiterated that Pakistan “would not be a part of any conflict”. When pushed for an answer, he had replied that it had not been discussed. “Why would the Americans bomb Afghanistan when it hasn’t worked for 20 years?”
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in May had also ruled out the possibility of providing military bases to the US for counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.
Taliban’s political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said there would be no cooperation with Washington on containing the increasingly active Islamic State in Afghanistan. “We are able to tackle Daesh independently,” Shaheen said.