10:50 GMT25 June 2021
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    Following the United States' decision to pull out security forces from terror-battered Afghanistan, neighbouring countries are worried a security vacuum may develop, while Pakistan fears it could be made a scapegoat in the stalemate situation.

    Pakistan has denied the United States access to its land for building air bases, the country's Foreign Affairs Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed. He added that Pakistan has to "look after its own interests."

    His statement comes after a media report stated that the US is scrambling to find new bases after withdrawing its military from Afghanistan, where they have been present for the past 20 years. There's speculation that the Pentagon is exploring Pakistan as an option for its air bases to prevent Afghanistan from sliding into a civil war after the withdrawal of troops.

    Washington's negotiations with Islamabad over building a new base have reached an "impasse." According to a New York Times report, CIA director William J Burns recently made an unannounced visit to Islamabad to meet the chief of Pakistan's military and the head of the directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin also had multiple phone calls with Pakistani General Qamar Javed Bajwa about "getting the country’s help for future US operations."

    "Pakistan wants a stable Afghanistan, but there are some elements who do not want peace in the region. We want to see the peace process going forward along with the withdrawal of troops. The world does not consider Pakistan part of the problem anymore. To search for bases could be their wish. There's no question of us giving them bases," Qureshi told local media.

    The Taliban, a Sunni Islamist movement and military organisation in Afghanistan, warned Afghanistan's neighbours against allowing the US to establish bases on its territory. The organisation said, "If such a step is taken again, it will be a great historic mistake and disgrace and we will not remain silent in the face of such heinous and provocative acts."

    Criticising US President Joe Biden's move to withdraw forces after two decades, Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf said that the hasty withdrawal was not a good idea: “The United States has assured us that Pakistan will not be made a scapegoat amidst the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, but only time will tell whether they stay true to their word as history suggests otherwise."

    Meanwhile, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Washington has had constructive discussions about military, intelligence, and diplomatic issues with Pakistan in a bid to ensure  Afghanistan never again becomes a base for terrorist organisations.

    Taliban, US Forces Afghanistan, Afghanistan War, Afghanistan, US air base, air base, United States, Pakistan
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