Pakistan will not provide bases to US in future

The remarks came after a Pentagon official said that Pakistan had allowed the US military to use its airspace and given ground access…reports Asian Lite News

Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday said in the Senate that Pakistan would not provide its military bases to the United States for future counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan and also not allow drone attacks inside Pakistan.

The foreign minister also rejected as unfounded the reports of providing the US, bases in Pakistan, making it clear that Prime Minister Imran Khan would never provide its bases to the US, nor would allow drone attacks inside Pakistan, reported The News International.

“I want to assure the House that Pakistan is in safe hands,” he remarked.

The remarks came after a Pentagon official said that Pakistan had allowed the US military to use its airspace and given ground access so that it could support its presence in Afghanistan.

Responding to the concerns of a senator, the 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”.

Qureshi contended that as the US planned to withdraw its remaining troops from Afghanistan by September 11, Pakistan would continue playing its role for advancement of the peace process in that country, reported The News International.

Mian Raza Rabbani, ex-chairman Senate, also said that Pakistan should not allow the United States the use of its air and ground facilities for action in Afghanistan and an international mechanism be thrashed out to prevent such circumstances from happening again.

Meanwhile, diplomatic sources in Washington told Dawn that Pakistan had always allowed overflights and ground access to the US to facilitate its military presence in Afghanistan and would continue to do so.

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Asserting that Pakistan’s priorities have changed, Foreign Minister Qureshi asked the United States to come out of its hangover and quit seeing Islamabad from the “Afghanistan prism”, adding that Washington should focus on the bilateral side to their relationship.

Qureshi, in an interview with the Japanese newspaper Nikkei, emphasised that Islamabad’s priority now includes economic growth and human development.

“We’ve told them that Pakistan’s thought process has changed. The US administration should come out of its hangover of the past. It’s a new, transformed Pakistan, in which our priorities have changed. Our priority is economic growth, human development, economic security, elimination and eradication of terrorism, and reversing extremism,” the Pakistan Foreign Minister told Nikkei.

Answering a question over juggling ties with the US and China, the minister said Pakistan has been telling the Americans: “If you go away, somebody has to step in.”

“You’re not investing in Pakistan, you’re not engaging with Pakistan. How are you helping build this bilateral relationship? The only way you can do that is remain engaged. Now if you just come up with a transactional relationship, it won’t work. You can’t just keep on saying, “Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Afghanistan.” There’s a bilateral side to us as well.” (ANI)

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