Thursday February 22, 2024

Opposition seeks further clarification on FO's US military base statement

Foreign Office vehemently rejected speculations about the presence of a US military or airbase inside Pakistan

By Web Desk
May 25, 2021
PML-N leader Kh Saad Rafique and Jamaat Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq.

LAHORE: The Opposition leaders have asked the government to give more clarifications over a US official’s statement that Pakistan would continue to provide air and ground access for Afghanistan operations and rumours that the country would give a military base to the US.

The demand came after the Foreign Office vehemently rejected speculations about the presence of a US military or airbase inside Pakistan, saying such "baseless and irresponsible speculations" must be avoided.

Reacting to the FO clarification, Senior PML-N and former federal minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said that the FO's explanation of the US military base is unsatisfactory.

He added that the Pak-US Air-Ground Communication Agreement must have been signed in 2001 and asked the authorities to explain what were the terms of the agreement. He also sought an explanation as to when implementation on the agreement was halted.

"If there's no new agreement between the two sides when was the previous one renewed and who signed this?"

The PML-N leader also asked the government why the matter was not discussed in the cabinet and the National Assembly.

"An explanation should be presented in the Parliament on this issue related to national security," said the PML-N stalwart.

JI wants govt’s clarification on US claim

On the other hand, Jamaat Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq has warned the government against allowing the US army to use military bases in Pakistan, asking Prime Minister Imran Khan to clarify the statement of the US administration claiming that Islamabad has allowed Washington to use its military bases and air space.

Addressing a meeting of JI Punjab office-bearers at Mansoora on Monday, Sirajul Haq expressed concern that if the PTI government repeated the blunder committed by Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, it would invite more dangers and catastrophes for the country.

He warned that Pakistanis had already paid a heavy price of getting involved in others’ war in the shape of over 80,000 innocent lives and infrastructure damage of over $100 billion.

He cautioned the government against repeating that grave blunder, especially under the prevailing precarious security situation in the region, saying Pakistanis would never allow Washington any more access to use its military bases and air space at any cost.

Pakistan to continue to provide air, ground access

Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Affairs David F Helvey told US lawmakers during a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee that Pakistan would continue to provide air and ground access to the US.

He was responding to a question from Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, about his "assessment of Pakistan" and its intelligence agencies and the role expected by both 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 said.

He said the US will continue its conversation with Pakistan because of its support and contribution to the future of Afghanistan.

Pakistan has always allowed overflights and ground access to the US to facilitate its military presence in Afghanistan and will continue to do so, diplomatic sources were quoted as saying by Dawn.

In response to another question by Senator Manchin about how the US administration would ensure that terrorists do not return to Afghanistan, Helvey 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.”