Russian television (RT) reported today that there are reports that the withdrawal of U. S. troops from Afghanistan may be redeployed to Pakistan. In response, Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi said Pakistan could not reopen its air bases for future U.S. operations against the Taliban after the U.S. withdrawal in September, out of a need to protect national interests and the peace process in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s bases, airspace and all-weather supply and communication lines to neighboring Afghanistan played a crucial role in the U.S.-led military invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11 20 years ago, the report said.
However, qureshi told a news conference in Islamabad on Tuesday that Pakistan would not participate in any future U.S. military operations and would choose to continue as a “partner for peace.” In response to a question about “whether the Pakistani government is under pressure to hand over the base to the United States,” Qureshi said, “No.” We do not intend to allow ground troops in, nor will Pakistan hand over any bases to the United States. We will be partners in peace, and that will be our role, the role of a mediator. He added, “There’s no pressure.” Pakistan will protect its own interests. ”
Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden said the remaining 2,500 to 3,500 U.S. troops and about 7,000 NATO troops would leave Afghanistan by September 11, more than four months behind the May 1 deadline agreed by the Taliban and the Trump administration in an agreement last year.
Biden also said the U.S. will “reorganize its counterterrorism capabilities and assets in the region” to contain potential terrorist threats.
At a news conference last month, Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said U.S. diplomats were studying the “art of possibility” of reaching a military agreement with Afghanistan’s neighbors to determine where the withdrawn U.S. troops could be redeployed, but he did not name Pakistan.
“We do have other options,” Mr McKenzie said. We will explore these options and seek the best combination of choices to support future counter-terrorism response. ”
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Blinken suggested that Pakistan had “taken a ride” in the Afghan conflict, expressing the general view that Pakistan and other neighbors benefit from the U.S. and NATO military presence but have not made a significant contribution.
“The decision to withdraw has attracted the attention of almost everyone in Afghanistan and abroad, as well as in the region,” Blinken said at the time. For the past 20 years, to some extent, they’ve been riding the windmills of us, NATO and our partners. They must now decide what their interests are, including Pakistan. ”
But Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi said the pakistani government had adopted a “clear policy” of working with the United States in the peace process, noting that Islamabad had been using its influence with the Taliban to persuade them to reconcile with the Afghan authorities. “This is what we need, and we hope it will happen in this way,” the foreign minister said. He added that Afghans must take ownership of the peace process in order to succeed.