‘Absolutely not’: Imran Khan turned down US request for bases against Afghanistan operations

There’s no way we're going to allow any bases, any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan: PM

Key Highlights

  • PM Imran Khan gives interview to HBO Axios.
  • Prime minister once again tells US that Pakistani military bases will not be given to CIA.
  • The US is looking for options to keep a check on Afghanistan after troops’ withdrawal.

Dubai News Report:

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,” Imran Khan told Axios on HBO in an interview.

In an excerpt of the interview that broadcasted on the Axios website on Sunday, 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.

Clear policy stand

Prime Minister Imran Khan has clearly said that Pakistan will not give its bases to the US for operations in Afghanistan after the latter’s troops’ withdrawal.
The premier reiterated Pakistan’s stance on the use of military bases and categorically stated that Islamabad will not allow it.

The US is in talks with Pakistan and other regional countries for cooperation in future operations in the war-torn country to keep a check on militancy.

However, the country has conveyed to Washington that it is not possible.

The prime minister was again asked by the US media for his comments on giving access to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to military bases.

“Will you allow the American government to have the CIA here in Pakistan to conduct cross border counter-terrorism missions against Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban?” Swan asked the premier.

“Absolutely not,” PM Imran Khan responded.

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.

No fruitful talks

Earlier, in a press briefing at the White House, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had said that they had constructive discussions through 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 or ISIS or any other terrorist group can attack the United States.

“But in terms of the specifics of what that will look like, that will have to remain in those private channels as we work through them,” he had said without sharing further details.

Sullivan had said they are talking to a wide range of countries about how they build effective, over-the-horizon capacity, both from an intelligence and a defence perspective, to be able to suppress the terrorism threat in Afghanistan.

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