Pakistan rubbishes claim of providing bases to US


ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday dismissed speculations that Pakistan was providing military bases to the United States or any other country.

“This speculation is completely unfounded, and we reject it. There is absolutely no basis for these social media speculations,” Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the foreign office spokesperson, told reporters at the weekly briefing.

“Pakistan has no plans to offer bases to a foreign government or military directed against anyone,” she added.

When her attention was drawn toward the reported statement by the Leader of the Opposition Omar Ayub, claiming that they had some information about Pakistan providing bases to the US, the spokesperson said the question should be posed to the lawmaker.

“This question may be posed to the Leader of the Opposition, because I have given you the reality and the facts in response to an earlier question today,” the spokesperson added.

Speculations about the bases were first triggered by PTI lawmaker Sher Afzal Marwat, who claimed that Pakistan provided bases to the US.

Some government officials had already rebutted his claims, insisting that the bases Marwat was referring to were vacated a long time ago by the US.

While strongly rejecting talk of any bases, the spokesperson said that Pakistan and the US had a “robust” bilateral relationship.

She referred to the recent visit of US Acting Under Secretary for Political Affairs John Bass and Principal Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Horst to Pakistan.

At the foreign office, they held a meeting with Acting Foreign Secretary Ambassador Rahim Hayat Qureshi on April 30. “The two sides discussed various aspects of bilateral cooperation and underscored the importance of sustained engagement through various dialogue processes including in the areas of trade, investment, energy, health, education, agriculture, and climate change,” she added.

“Pakistan and the United States have robust bilateral institutionalised mechanisms including on trade and investment, US energy security, climate change and environment, health, and counterterrorism. Pakistan will continue to engage with the United States to enhance bilateral cooperation and understanding,” the spokesperson noted.

The visit of the US officials came just days after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi travelled to Pakistan. Despite reservations by Washington, Pakistan agreed on a number of steps with Iran to deepen cooperation.

Meanwhile, the foreign office strongly rejected allegations levelled by Shahzad Akbar, a former cabinet member of the PTI government, against the Pakistani intelligence agencies. “We categorically reject the allegations made by Mr Shahzad Akbar against the state of Pakistan and its institutions and agencies,” she added.

“These claims are baseless and politically motivated. As we have said in the past, the safety and security of Pakistani nationals, wherever they are, are a matter of priority for Pakistan.”

“It is not the policy of Pakistan to target its own nationals abroad. Several high-profile political dissidents have been living in the United Kingdom for several decades. They have often indulged in vitriol and invective against Pakistan, and some of them have maintained links with terrorist entities inside Pakistan,” the spokesperson maintained.

She said that Pakistan had not engaged in any extraterritorial acts against these individuals. “So, Mr Shahzad Akbar’s claims are simply preposterous,” she