ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will “absolutely not” allow the CIA to use bases on its soil for cross-border counterterrorism missions after American forces withdraw from Afghanistan, said Prime Minister Imran Khan.
In a wide-ranging interview with Jonathan Swan of HBO Axios, which will be aired Sunday at 6pm ET (Monday 3:00am PST), the prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s stance on the use of military bases and categorically stated that Islamabad will not allow it.
The state of counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan is a critical question facing the Biden administration as US forces move closer to total withdrawal by Sept. 11.
The Biden administration also is exploring options in Central Asia to maintain intelligence on terrorist networks inside Afghanistan. This is complicated due to Russian President Putin’s influence in the region.
PM Imran Khan has Khan was unequivocal and said Pakistan will not allow the CIA or US special forces to base themselves inside his country ever again.
“Will you allow the American government to have the CIA here in Pakistan to conduct cross border counter-terrorism missions against Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban?” Swan asked the premier. “Absolutely not,” PM Imran Khan responded.
Pakistan’s PM @imrankhanPTI to @jonathanvswan on whether he’d allow the U.S. to set up a presence in his country to carry out counterterrorism missions against ISIS and the Taliban in Afghanistan: “Absolutely not.”
— Axios (@axios) June 18, 2021
The prime minister has long opposed Pakistan cooperating with the US war on terror. CIA Director William Burns did not meet with Imran Khan when he made an unannounced trip to Islamabad recently to meet with the military figures.
Earlier this month, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US has had “constructive discussions” with Pakistan about ensuring Afghanistan will never again become a base from which terrorist groups can attack the US
Burns has warned of the “significant risk” of Al-Qaeda and ISIS regrouping in Afghanistan. That risk will only increase if the Afghan government collapses and the country falls into a civil war, Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Mark Milley testified.