General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, stated on Thursday that Pakistan will not provide airbases to the US if the government has decided against it. After attending a military and intelligence briefing for lawmakers on national security and the situation in Afghanistan, the COAS was answering questions from the media.
“You should have put this question to the government. Why have you asked this from me?” Gen Bajwa said when first questioned on the military’s position on the matter.
When pressed, however, the COAS reiterated the government’s position that no base will be provided to the US.
Following the departure of foreign troops from the war-torn nation, Pakistan has officially refused to provide military bases to the US for operations within Afghanistan.
Washington has sought Islamabad’s assistance in keeping an eye on the situation in Afghanistan and preventing it from slipping into terrorists’ hands.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had stated the day before in his speech to the National Assembly that Pakistan could be a partner in peace with the US but not in war.
He had said that when Pakistan joined the so-called US-led war on terror and deployed its troops into the tribal areas, it became a target for terrorists.
The military briefed the political leadership on Thursday about the deteriorating situation in the neighboring country and its potential effect on Pakistan.
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser presided over the meeting, which included a briefing by Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), and Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR), were also present.
During the meeting, the DG ISI addressed parliamentarians on the present situation in Kashmir and Afghanistan, as well as the internal and external security situation and the difficulties posed by the region’s changing character.
The session was told, according to an official statement released after the briefing, that Pakistan played a very constructive and responsible role in the Afghan peace process.
“Pakistan’s efforts paved the way for dialogue between Afghan factions and warring groups,” the meeting was told, while it was also noted that due to Islamabad’s efforts, meaningful talks have begun between the US and the Taliban.
“Sustained peace and stability in Afghanistan will lead to stability in South Asia,” the meeting was informed.
Pakistan will welcome a government that was genuinely representative of the Afghan people, and it would continue to play a responsible role in maintaining peace in Afghanistan, according to the participants.
“Pakistan’s territory is not being used in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan […] and we hope that Afghanistan’s land is not used against Pakistan,” the DG ISI had said during the session.