With the United States forces ready to withdraw from Afghanistan by Sept 11 for which Washington will need Pakistan’s help, it seems the ice between Islamabad and the new US administration is starting to melt, as the national security advisers of both countries held a meeting in Geneva on Sunday in a bid to reset ties.
Moeed Yousaf, the newly-appointed federal minister, met his US counterpart Jake Sullivan to discuss bilateral ties and other crucial issues. However, the conversation remained focus on Afghanistan amid reports that the US will leave Afghanistan by September, sources told The Correspondent.
A joint statement of the meeting was released by the two sides which read, “the National Security Advisers of Pakistan and the United States of America met in Geneva yesterday. Both sides had a positive conversation on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest and agreed to advance practical cooperation on these issues.”
It is pertinent to mention that this is the first in-person meeting between the Pakistan and US leadership during the Biden administration. A phone call between the two heads of governments — Biden and Imran Khan — is also yet to take place despite a passage of six months.
Moreover, in April, Joe Biden invited 40 world leaders to the Leaders Summit on Climate “to galvanise efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis.” He, however, did not invite Washington’s longtime ally Islamabad, prompting Prime Minister Imran Khan to openly express his displeasure over the US snub.
PAKISTAN TO HELP US:
This meeting comes amid reports that Pakistan will allow the “US military to have overflight and access to be able to support its presence in Afghanistan”.
Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Affairs David F Helvey also told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US will continue its conversation with Pakistan due to the “important role it has played to support the peace process in the neighbouring war-torn country.”
Helvey said in response to Senator Joe Manchin’s question that Pakistan has played an important role in Afghanistan and they have supported the Afghan peace process.
“We will continue our conversations with Pakistan because their support and their contribution to the future of Afghanistan, the future of peace in Afghanistan is going to be critical.”
NO US BASES IN PAKISTAN:
As US troops prepare to leave Afghanistan by September 11, Pakistan ruled out the possibility of providing its military bases to the United States for future counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, Voice of America had reported.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi made the remarks to reporters in Islamabad, explaining that his government has adopted a policy that allows it to be “only partners in peace,” and not involved in any future US war, the outlet quoted the federal minister.
“No sir, we do not intend to allow boots on the ground and no [US] bases are being transferred to Pakistan,” Qureshi said when asked whether his government is under pressure to give military bases to the US.