ISLAMABAD: The United States State Department has said Pakistan was an “important partner” to the US on various fronts and the two nations shared interests, including on counterterrorism, that extended beyond Afghanistan.
Pakistan has helped facilitate US-Taliban negotiations that resulted in a withdrawal deal whereby the US would withdraw all troops by Sept. 11 this year. Pakistan is believed to wield considerable influence with the Taliban, and the US and the Kabul government, have consistently pushed it to get insurgents to agree to a peace plan.
“Pakistan is an important partner across any number of fronts,” state department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday. “We have shared interests when it comes to Afghanistan, when it comes to peace and stability in Afghanistan. We have … encouraged Pakistan to be a constructive partner when it comes to Afghanistan and our collective efforts to bring about some semblance of peace and security there.”
However, he added that the two nations’ “shared interests go well beyond that: broader counterterrorism interests as well, not to mention the people-to-people ties that unite our two countries.”
He said all of Afghanistan’s neighbours need to play a “constructive role” in helping to bring about a durable political settlement and a comprehensive cease-fire.
“For far too long, some of Afghanistan’s neighbours have not played that role,” Price said. “And right now, we have made clear that we are going to be working very closely to ensure that Afghanistan’s neighbours do play that constructive role, knowing that it will be a necessary ingredient to what I think we all collectively hope to see in Afghanistan.”
In an address to parliament on June 30, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan would never compromise its sovereignty or become a “partner in conflict” with the United States, amid media reports the US wants to use Pakistani military bases to carry out counter-terror operations in Afghanistan after its troops leave the war-battered country.
The quality of counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan is a critical question facing the President Joe Biden administration as the withdrawal nears, with media outlets reporting in recent weeks that the US was seeking military bases in Pakistan.
Khan told “Axios on HBO” in a wide-ranging interview last month that Pakistan would “absolutely not” allow the CIA to use bases on its soil for cross-border counterterrorism missions.