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Pakistan won’t give its bases to US army after withdrawal from Afghanistan

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Prime Minister Imran Khan says no action to be allowed from Pakistan’s territory into Afghanistan

KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan has made it clear that Pakistan will not give its airbases to US troops in Pakistan, a statement that came as a teaser to his interview with HBO Axios that would be aired Sunday evening.

“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 comes at a time when the US forces move closer to total withdrawal in Afghanistan by September 11, putting at unease the CIA that is reportedly looking to find new bases for its counterterrorism and surveillance operations.

The CIA is seeking ways to maintain its intelligence-gathering, war-fighting, and counterterrorism operations in the country, the The New York Times reported earlier.

Reports have also emerged that the American officials have been trying to negotiate a deal with Pakistan, with a Pentagon official saying that Pakistan has allowed the US military to use its airspace, and given ground access so that it can support its presence in Afghanistan. Pakistan has refuted these reports.

“Pakistan also has allowed us to have overflight and access to be able to support our military presence in Afghanistan,” Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Affairs David F. Helvey said.

However, Pakistan has refuted these reports, with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi saying that Pakistan will neither allow any drone strike nor an American base to be established in the country.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban have warned its neighbours against allowing the US military to operate bases on their soil.

“If such a step is taken again, it will be a great and historic mistake and disgrace,” the group said, adding that they would “not remain silent in the face of such heinous and provocative acts.”

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry also reiterated that giving military bases to the US is out of the question, adding that no negotiations are in progress with anyone for giving any base.

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