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."
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.