Pakistan will not hand over its military or air bases to the United States, nor will it allow it to launch airstrikes within Pakistan, according to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
After sending Pakistan’s policy statement on the Israel-Palestine conflicts, the foreign minister Qureshi said this as he wrapped up his speech in Parliament on Tuesday.
In response to recent media reports based on a US official’s statement, the minister said that Pakistan, under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s leadership, would never offer its bases to the US.
After a Pentagon official said Pakistan had permitted the US military to use its airspace and provided land access to sustain its presence in Afghanistan, the remarks were made.
Islamabad, according to Qureshi, would never allow drone attacks within Pakistan.
“I want to assure the House that Pakistan is in safe hands,” he remarked.
Responding to the concerns of a senator, the foreign minister Qureshi said, “Because what we were fearing and we still fear and are concerned that a vacuum created in Afghanistan can drag or suck the country back into the decade of 1990s”.
Since the US planned to leave the country by September 11, the minister clarified, Pakistan will continue to play a role as a mediator in the dispute to maintain stability in Afghanistan.
On the Palestinian question, the minister said that the first target of a truce had been met, but that the UN Secretary-General had been urged to play a part in finding a definitive solution to the problem in order to ensure a lasting settlement in the Middle East.
The foreign minister’s clarification comes in response to a briefing by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Affairs, David F Helvey, who informed US lawmakers a few days ago that Pakistan will continue to provide air and land access to the US.
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat, asked him about his “assessment of Pakistan” and its intelligence services, as well as the part they are likely to play in the future.
“Pakistan has played an important role in Afghanistan. They supported the Afghan peace process. Pakistan also has allowed us to have overflight and access to be able to support our military presence in Afghanistan,” Helvey had said.
He said that the US would continue to speak with Pakistan because of its help and commitment to Afghanistan’s future.
According to diplomatic sources quoted by Dawn, Pakistan has always permitted overflights and land access to the US to promote its military involvement in Afghanistan and will continue to do so.
In response to another question by Senator Manchin about how the US administration would ensure that terrorists do not return to Afghanistan, Helvey had said: “We will have to work with our local and regional partners, and we want to continue developing those capabilities and those partnerships to be able to ensure that we have the right of framework to address the threats.”