US bases in Pakistan

Riyatullah Farooqui

The writer is a senior journalist.

It’s very simple. Twenty years ago, the United States and 44 allies came to Afghanistan saying that the Taliban are terrorists and they wanted a regime change. After suffering a defeat, they started dialogue with the Taliban two decades later. There were only two sides in the negotiations, Taliban and US while Kabul’s Ashraf Ghani was nowhere in sight.

For the first time in its history, the United States was forced to negotiate with “terrorists.” They even threatened Pakistan if they did not support negotiations with the Taliban. The key demand from the Taliban was guaranteeing that Afghan soil would not be used against other countries. This was no big deal for them. When Taliban controlled Afghanistan in 1997, they had even removed the camps of Kashmiri militants groups. Pakistan urged Taliban not to expel these “jihadi brothers” but they replied “Fight your war with India on your own soil. We will not allow our land to be used.” Thus the camps of Kashmiri groups moved from Afghanistan to Azad Kashmir near Mansehra. I am an eyewitness to this transition as I was the director information of Harkat-ul-Ansar in those days.

Even in the Doha talks, the Taliban accepted this demand without any discussion. The second major US demand was that it should be allowed to maintain five bases in Afghanistan. This was outrightly rejected by the Taliban. The US came down to three and eventually one base, but the Taliban did not accept. Surprisingly, our geniuses who were facilitating the US also kept persuading the Taliban to give up bases but the Taliban still refused. The latest news suggests that our military is preparing to lease their military base to the United States or perhaps building a new one for them. The base has not been given yet but a formal “yes” has been given.

This has been stated by US Deputy Secretary of Defense to Congress and misrepresentation is a serious offense leading to imprisonment The US administration informs Congress because every dollar spent is approved by them. Even the US president seeks House approval to spend money. If a US military base is built in Pakistan, its expenses will also be approved by the House. Therefore, the Deputy Secretary of Defense’s statement to the House is surely correct. Maybe there is someone who has given them the green signal. If he is not a general, it is a US agent named Moeed Yusuf who has been accepted by our intelligence agencies as national security adviser. The Foreign Office’s denial is not worth a penny. He has been constantly lying on such matters even during Musharraf’s regime.

If this base is given, it will have devastating effects and the guarantee taken from the Taliban will be over that they will not allow their territory to be used against any other country.

The handover implies that the United States has not declared a ceasefire sought refuge in a neighbouring country to escape Taliban attacks. In this case, Pakistan will be facilitating allowing its territory to be used against the Taliban. Since Pakistan has allowed using its territory, we would also be an enemy of the Taliban. This will give them an excuse to attack Pakistan for the first time since 9/11. If the US comes to Naseerabad from Bagram, the Taliban will follow them there. It will be completely our fault, not theirs.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the United States is uniting Western countries, Japan, India and Australia, and is preparing to encircle China in the South China Sea. On such an occasion, China will see this base handover against itself and will not accept it in any way. What is the logic of having a US base at the mouth of CPEC? It seems that those who impose a hybrid system for personal gain are trying to get their model approved by giving a base to the United States. They do not think how devastating their move will be for the country. If anyone thinks that the nation will consider this as Imran Khan’s decision, then they are deluded. The civilian rulers do not have the power to give a military base to anyone, let alone a military jeep. The foreign and defense policy is someone else’s domain.