The Taliban warned the departing U.S. troops on Wednesday against establishing bases in the region, Pakistan also promised that no American bases would be permitted on its territory.
Pakistan has also stated that drone operations from Pakistani territory are also not an option.
The statements come amid concerns that the U.S. will seek a nearby location from which to launch strikes against militant targets as it withdraws the last of its 2,500-3,500 troops from Afghanistan.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Pakistan’s Senate on Tuesday that the country would not allow American bases on its soil.
“Forget the past, but I want to tell the Pakistanis that no U.S. base will be allowed by Prime Minister Imran Khan so long he is in power,” he said.
Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Pakistan opened four air bases to the U.S.-led coalition to aid in its efforts in Afghanistan to track down the al-Qaida perpetrators.
In his April speech announcing the end of America’s “forever war,” President Joe Biden stated that Washington would hold the Taliban and the government fully responsible to ensure that Afghanistan would not be used as a staging area for attacks on the United States or its allies in the future.
“We will not take our eye off the terrorist threat,” said Biden. “We will reorganize our counterterrorism capabilities and the substantial assets in the region to prevent re-emergence of a terrorist threat to our homeland over the horizon.”
The United States, along with approximately 7,000 NATO forces, are going to leave Afghanistan by September 11 at the latest. The U.S. Central Command said earlier this week that it had completed about 25% of its withdrawal. The logistical challenges of withdrawal are humongous, and according to a CENTCOM statement, departing military units have already loaded military equipment onto 160 C-17 cargo planes and flown it back to the U.S.
Aside from transporting the equipment by aircrafts, the U.S. is also transporting it out of Afghanistan via Central Asia and Pakistan.
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In their statement, the Taliban warned neighboring countries against allowing the United States to use their territory as a staging area.
“God forbid such a step is taken, it will be a great historic mistake and disgrace, its shame will go in history,” said the statement. “As we have repeatedly assured others our soil will not be used against anyone’s security, we urge others not to use its soil and airspace against our country.”
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