US State Department Refrains From Commenting Over Using Pakistani Airfields

Friday, 04/19/2024

Vadent Patel, the Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department, refrained from commenting on reports of the US using Pakistani airbases to attack terrorist groups in Afghanistan and requested clarification from the Pentagon on the matter.

The Taliban has claimed that American drones enter Afghanistan from neighbouring countries' airspace.

On Wednesday, Sher Afzal Marwat, a member of the Pakistani National Assembly, stated that Pakistan has handed over two of its airbases in Balochistan, near the borders with Afghanistan and Iran, to the United States.

Patel, on Thursday, in response to a question from Aref Yaqubi, a reporter of Afghanistan International, regarding these reports and security cooperation between Pakistan and the US, stated that he would defer this matter to the Defence Department for an explanation.

In recent weeks, unmanned aircraft have been spotted in the skies of various Afghan cities, including Kandahar. These drones are part of United States’ efforts to monitor terrorist groups in Afghanistan and conduct targeted attacks against them.

While not explicitly naming Pakistan, the Taliban has accused neighbouring countries of Afghanistan of allowing these drones to traverse their airspace.

According to the EurAsian Times, rumours and reports of the US using Pakistani bases escalated after General McKenzie, the former CENTCOM commander, told a US Senate committee regarding the necessity for the Biden administration to engage with Afghanistan's neigh-boring countries to prevent quasi-militants of ISIS and Al-Qaeda from operating outside Afghanistan.

Pakistan, among Afghanistan's neighbours, maintains close military ties with the US and has previously granted permission for the US to utilise its territory against al-Qaeda.

The issue of handing over Pakistani airbases to the US has been contentious in recent years within Pakistan. Following the US attack on Afghanistan, Pakistan allowed its airbases, including the Shamsi Airfield in Balochistan, to be used by the US forces in their fight against the Taliban. However, the US later evacuated the base.

With the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and the conclusion of their military presence in the country, the debate over the United States' use of Pakistani airbases had been raised again. During this time, Imran Khan's government has refrained from granting access to these bases to the US.

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