In a statement by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the spokesperson stated that “no such understanding was in place”. The statement said that Pakistan and the United States (US) have longstanding cooperation on regional security and counter-terrorism and the two sides remain engaged in regular consultations.
However, a report published in CNN suggested that the US administration has informed that the country is nearing an agreement with Pakistan to use its airspace to conduct military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan.
The report cites three sources familiar with the details of a classified briefing with members of the American Congress, held on Friday. It states that Pakistan had expressed the desire to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US government in exchange for assistance with its own counter-terrorism efforts and help in managing the relationship with its neighbour India.
However, negotiations between both countries are ongoing and nothing has yet been finalised.
The US military currently uses Pakistan’s airspace as part of ongoing intelligence-gathering efforts, but there is no formal agreement and without it, the US has the risk of Pakistan refusing entry to US military aircraft and drones to Afghanistan.
One source said that an agreement was discussed when US officials visited Pakistan, but it’s not yet clear what Pakistan wants or how much the US would be willing to give in return.
Prior to this revelation, in an interview, Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan Imran Khan said that Pakistan would absolutely not allow the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to use bases on its soil for cross-border counter-terrorism missions after American forces withdraw from Afghanistan.
Moreover, National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf said that Pakistan has not given a chance to the US to demand airbases after withdrawal from Afghanistan, and categorically said, “Pakistan’s position is that it cannot provide airbases to the US.”
The US withdrew its troops from Afghanistan on August 31.