Negotiations on US military base in Pakistan have reached an impasse: New York Times

The United States continues to focus on Pakistan for a military base in the region, although some American officials believe the negotiations have reached an impasse for now, according to the New York Times

Jun 08, 2021
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US-Pakistan flags (File)

The United States continues to focus on Pakistan for a military base in the region, although some American officials believe the negotiations have reached an impasse for now, according to the New York Times. The US intelligence agency CIA did use a base in Pakistan to launch drone strikes against militants but “was kicked out of the facility in 2011, when US relations with Pakistan unraveled,” the report said.

“Some American officials (told the newspaper) that negotiations with Pakistan had reached an impasse for now. Others have said the option remains on the table and a deal is possible,” Dawn quoted New York Times as saying.

According to NYT, William J. Burns, the CIA director, recently made an unannounced visit to Islamabad to meet the chief of the Pakistani military and the head of the directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence. US Defence Secretary Lloyd J. Austin also has had frequent calls with the Pakistani military chief about getting the country’s help for future US operations in Afghanistan.

Burns did not bring up the base issue during his trip to Pakistan as the visit focused on broader counterterrorism cooperation, but “some of Austin’s discussions have been more direct,” the report adds.

Analyzing Pakistan’s reluctance in offering a base to the US, the report notes that “the government in Islamabad is unlikely to sign off on any US strikes against the Taliban that are launched from a base in Pakistan.”

The report said some US officials believe Pakistan wants to allow US access to a base “if it can control how it is used.”  

The report also quotes Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s speech in parliament last month,  when he said: “no US base will be allowed by Prime Minister Imran Khan so long he is in power”.

The report pointed out that the US intelligence agency CIA used the Shamsi airbase in Pakistan’s Balochistan province to carry out hundreds of drone strikes during a surge that began in 2008. The strikes focused primarily on suspected Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan’s mountainous tribal areas, but they also crossed the border into Afghanistan.

The report claims that in discussions with American officials, “the Pakistanis have demanded a variety of restrictions in exchange for the use of a base in the country, and they have effectively required that they sign off on any targets that either the CIA or the military would want to hit inside Afghanistan.”

(SAM)

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