ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has reaffirmed that Pakistan will neither provide its military or air bases to the US nor permit it to conduct airstrikes within the country.
He was winding up debate in the Senate on Tuesday regarding a motion regarding systematic Israeli assault on the Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque and Gaza during the holy month of Ramazan.
Qureshi termed the news regarding presence of US military and air base inside Pakistan baseless and speculative.
“No US base could exist in Pakistan during the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he added. “Today, Pakistan was in safe hands,” the minister said.
Regarding withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan, he said Pakistan had consistently been saying that there should be a responsible and orderly withdrawal to avoid any security vacuum.
He said Pakistan was part of solution and not that of the problem, and the world had acknowledged it now. Pakistan would continue to play its positive role in facilitating the Afghan peace process.
“Our sole objective is to see peace, stability and progress in Afghanistan, as the peace in the neighbouring country is directly linked with the progress and development of Pakistan,” he added.
Qureshi said US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad had also accepted the positive role of Pakistan towards resolving the issues and stability in Afghanistan.
“It was a paradigm shift due to sacrifices of the people and armed forces as stability in Afghanistan was always preferred for stability in the region,” he added.
The remarks came after a Pentagon official said that Pakistan had allowed the US military to use its airspace and will continue to provide ground access to support its presence in Afghanistan.
The minister explained that as the US planned to move out of the country by September 11, Pakistan would continue playing its role as a mediator in the conflict to ensure peace in Afghanistan.
A day earlier, the Foreign Office (FO) has rejected speculations about the presence of a US military or airbase inside Pakistan, stating that such “baseless and irresponsible speculations” must be avoided.
“There is no US military or air base in Pakistan, nor was any such proposal envisaged. Any speculation on this account is baseless and irresponsible and should be avoided,” said spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudri in a statement.
The spokesperson further said Pakistan and the US have a framework of cooperation in terms of the Air Lines of Communication (ALOC) and Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC) in place since 2001. “No new agreement has been made in this regard,” he maintained.
Pakistan played role in achieving Gaza ceasefire
Regarding the Israel-Palestine issue, the foreign minister stressed the need for continuous efforts to awaken the world conscience, both on humanitarian and ideological grounds, for resolving the Palestine issue on permanent basis.
The foreign minister said durable peace in the Middle East was not possible without resolving the Palestine issue, and stressed the need for evolving international consensus to formulate a comprehensive strategy for the purpose.
He said Pakistan played a vital role in achieving a ceasefire in Gaza to protect the precious human lives of Palestinian people. “Palestine was the oldest item on the agenda of United Nations Security Council (UNSC),” he added
The minister highlighted the efforts of Pakistan during the UNSC meeting for an end to Israeli violence and barbarism against the innocent Palestinians in Gaza.
He said the current crisis emerged on 27th Ramazan after an attack on the faithful, who were going to offer prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. The crisis triggered as the Israeli police forcefully evicted the Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.
Prime Minister Imran Khan during his visit to Saudi Arabia, urged the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to act over the rising incidents of Islamophobia, he added.
The OIC’s Committee of Permanent Representatives, he said, held its virtual meeting and discussed the Israeli aggression in Palestine, particularly in Al-Quds Al-Shareef. A communique was issued, which fully focused to end Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
The foreign minister said the federal cabinet headed by the prime minister had approved sending humanitarian assistance for Palestine. He said they would contact the Egyptian foreign minister for the purpose as Egypt was the only route to send any kind of support to the besieged Palestinians.