US says shared interests with ‘helpful’ Pakistan go ‘well beyond’ Afghanistan

The United States has said that Pakistan has been a “helpful and constructive partner” when it comes to Afghanistan, stating that the interests of both countries “go well beyond that”.

“Pakistan is an important partner in various fronts and both the countries have shared interests in peace and stability in Afghanistan,” US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price was quoted by Radio Pakistan as saying on Thursday.

He said that Pakistan has been a helpful and constructive partner when it comes to Afghanistan and our collective efforts to bring about some semblance of peace and security there.

The spokesman during a press briefing said that the interests of the United States and Pakistan go well beyond that and include broader counterterrorism interests and the people-to-people ties that unite our two countries.

Price said that all of Afghanistan’s neighbours need to play a constructive role in helping to bring durable political settlement as well as a comprehensive ceasefire.

He said the US is going to work very closely to ensure that Afghanistan’s neighbours play a constructive role in the war-torn country.

The statement comes two days after Pentagon’s Central Command announced that the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan is more than 90 per cent completed.

CentCom said it had officially handed over seven former US bases to the Afghan security forces and had evacuated the equivalent of nearly 1,000 C-17 air freighter loads of equipment from the country, ahead of the September deadline to complete the pullout.

Read more: ‘Absolutely not’: PM says US bases won’t be allowed

On Friday, US forces handed over the sprawling Bagram air base north of Kabul, the main centre of US military operations in the country for most of the past two decades of conflict.

Earlier during an interview, Prime Minister Imran Khan had categorically said that Pakistan would “absolutely not” allow any bases and use of its territory for any sort of action inside Afghanistan.

“Absolutely not. There is no way we are going to allow any bases, any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not.”

Later, the premier said that Islamabad was ready to be a partner for peace in Afghanistan with Washington because both the countries wanted stability, development and denial of terrorists’ havens there.

Also read: PM warns of ‘revenge’ attacks for hosting US bases

Writing in The Washington Post, the premier argued that if the US couldn’t win the war from inside Afghanistan after 20 years, how would it do it from bases in Pakistan.

The prime minister expressed the apprehension that Pakistan had already paid a very high price of instability in Afghanistan and if the country agrees to host US bases, from which to bomb Afghanistan, and an Afghan civil war ensued, Pakistan would be targeted for revenge by terrorists again.

“We simply cannot afford this. We have already paid too heavy a price,” PM Imran wrote. “If Pakistan were to agree to host US bases, from which to bomb Afghanistan, and an Afghan civil war ensued, Pakistan would be targeted for revenge by terrorists again,” he added. “We will avoid risking further conflict.”

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