Pakistan ruled out Tuesday the possibility of again providing its military bases to the United States for future counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, as US troops prepare to completely leave the country by September 11, VOA reported.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi made the remarks to reporters in Islamabad, explaining that his government has adopted a policy that allows it to be "only partners in peace," and not involved in any future US war.
“No sir, we do not intend to allow boots on the ground and no [US] bases are being transferred to Pakistan,” Qureshi said when asked whether his government is under pressure to give military bases to the US.
The report said that US President Joe Biden’s administration has acknowledged it is in talks with several Central Asian neighbors of Afghanistan to examine where it can reposition troops to prevent the landlocked country from once again becoming a terrorist base for groups like al-Qaida.
But US officials have not named Pakistan, nor have they commented on media speculation that the subject of bases might be under bilateral discussions.
Qureshi said “we feel” the Taliban’s engagement in the Afghan peace process would bring and enhance the “international respectability and recognition” that the group required.
“If they want to be acceptable, if they want delisting to take place, if they want recognition then engagement, giving up violence and looking for a political solution is in their political interest,” he said.
In the meantime, the US forces in Afghanistan have handed over one facility to the Afghan National Army and transferred more than 1,800 pieces of equipment to be destroyed since the American drawdown from the country began May 1, US Central Command said Tuesday, according to a report published by Stars and Stripes.
CENTCOM’s estimate of completion is an “aggregate percentage of progress across all the different lines of effort that go into retrograde,” including equipment, personnel and facilities, chief Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which President Joe Biden ordered to be completed by Sept. 11, was about 6-12% complete as of Monday, according to the statement.
“Since the president's decision, the US has retrograded the equivalent of approximately 104 [military transport aircraft] C-17 [Globemaster III] loads of material out of Afghanistan,” CENTCOM said.
Kirby said CENTCOM did not release the number of troops that remain in Afghanistan because it would provide “a level of situational awareness for the Taliban,” which Pentagon officials have warned could attack withdrawing US forces.
“We have an obligation to keep our people safe, particularly in a retrograde that could be opposed,” he said. “We need to be careful about the kind of information that's in the public space.”
Before the drawdown began, there were about 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan. However, the Pentagon deployed several hundred Army Rangers and 12 F-18 attack planes to Afghanistan last week to assist with the drawdown, The Associated Press reported Thursday.