In speech, foreign minister dismisses reports of Washington being permitted to launch counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan from Pakistan
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday reaffirmed that the incumbent government would not provide the United States with any military bases in Pakistan to stage counterterrorism operations in neighboring Afghanistan.
Addressing the Senate on Israel’s ongoing atrocities in Palestine, he said he wanted to take the opportunity to reject the unfounded reports of Islamabad allocating military bases to Washington. He also vowed that the incumbent government would never allow the U.S. to use Pakistan as a staging ground and would not permit the use of drone attacks. “I want to assure the House that Pakistan is in safe hands,” he added.
To a question from a lawmaker about the possible implications for Pakistan if civil war broke out in Afghanistan after the ongoing U.S. withdrawal had been completed, Qureshi said Islamabad favored a responsible, orderly withdrawal. “Because what we were fearing, and we still fear and are concerned, that a vacuum created in Afghanistan can drag or suck the country back into the decade of 1990s. There could be anarchy and God forbid a civil war,” he said.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration recently admitted that it was in talks with several of Afghanistan’s neighbors to examine where it could reposition troops to prevent groups like Al Qaeda from utilizing its territory for terrorism. While U.S. officials did not name Pakistan, a Pentagon official had earlier claimed that Islamabad had allowed the U.S. military to use its airspace and given it ground access for continued support to Afghanistan.
On Palestine, the foreign minister said the global community had achieved its first goal of a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, but stressed this was not a lasting solution. He said the United Nations secretary general had been asked to play a role in reviving the Middle East peace process, adding a permanent solution was essential for durable peace in the region. He said the U.S. should also play its diplomatic role in this regard.
The House unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the unprovoked war of aggression unleashed by Israel against defenseless Palestinians in occupied territories. It noted that Israel’s actions against Palestinians included war crimes, as Israeli planes had bombed non-military targets, as well as crimes of deliberately committing sacrilege of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem. “The Senate of Pakistan also expresses its deep resentment at the hypocrisy and double standards of various countries whose condemnation is missing, but which still talk of human rights, despite being complicit with the aggressor. We reject any attempt to equate the aggressor [Israel] with the victims of aggression [Palestinian people] and are very clear, this is not a conflict. This is a one-sided war,” the resolution adds.