Islamabad has downplayed the increased military cooperation between American and Pakistani forces following the US military exit from Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office said on Monday that any speculation in regard to US military bases or air bases in Pakistan were both "baseless and irresponsible".
"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,” Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudri said in a official statement.
The spokesperson, however, noted that American and Pakistani forces did have a framework of cooperation in terms of Air Lines of Communication (ALOC) and Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC).
"No new agreement has been made in this regard," he said in the statement posted on Twitter.
Pakistan and the U.S. have a framework of cooperation in terms of Air Lines of Communication (ALOC) and Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC) in place since 2001. No new agreement has been made in this regard. 2/2— Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri (@Zhchaudhri) May 24, 2021
Chaudri's statement came after a Pentagon official said that Pakistan had allowed the US military to use its airspace and given ground access so that it can support its presence in Afghanistan, according to the Dawn.
David F Helvey, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Affairs, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee last week that the United States would continue to hold dialog on Afghanistan with Pakistani armed forces which play a significant role in restoring peace to the war-torn country.
In related news, US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin and Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa held a telephone conversation on Tuesday.
Today I had the chance to speak with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. I reiterated my appreciation for the U.S. – Pakistan relationship and my desire to continue to work together to further regional security and stability. pic.twitter.com/wYq3oLaiNZ— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) May 24, 2021
In a tweet posted on Austin's official account, the Pentagon Chief said that the two military leaders had discussed mutual interests as well as matters concerning regional security.
He added latest developments following the US military exit from Afghanistan and bilateral cooperation in various fields were also discussed in the phone call.
Also on Tuesday, Bajwa chaired the 241st Corps Commanders’ Conference held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.
At the Conference, Bajwa reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for regional peace and stability and expressed satisfaction over the operational readiness of Pakistani armed forces to deal with the security threats.
In regard to recent cross-border shootings from Afghanistan and the re-emergence of terrorist-led organizations, the forum expressed hope that Afghanistan’s territory would not be used as a platform to launch attacks against Pakistani regional clout.
The US attacked Afghanistan in 2001, claiming that the Taliban were harboring al-Qaeda militants. The invasion removed a Taliban regime from power but prompted widespread militancy and insecurity across the impoverished country. The war has taken countless lives, including the lives of many Afghan civilians.
All foreign troops were supposed to have been withdrawn from Afghanistan by May 1, as part of a deal that the US had reached with the Taliban in the Qatari capital, Doha, last year. US President Joe Biden postponed the full exit of US forces from Afghanistan to September 11.