Islamabad: A day after US media organisation CNN reported the possibility of an agreement between the United States and Pakistan regarding the use of the latter’s airspace to conduct military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan, the Imran Khan government rejected the report saying there was “no understanding” between the two countries.
The CNN report, published Saturday, has cited three sources familiar with the details of the classified briefing with members of the US Congress and said that the Biden administration has informed US lawmakers that the country was close to striking a formal deal with Pakistan for the use of its airspace to conduct military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan.
A Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson refuted the claims saying “no such understanding was in place” for the use of the country’s airspace for operations against terrorists in
Afghanistan, according to a Dawn report. The spokesperson, however, stressed that Pakistan and the US had “longstanding cooperation” on issues of regional security and counter-terrorism, and “the two sides remain engaged in regular consultations”.
The CNN report has claimed that Pakistan had expressed a desire to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US in exchange for help in its own counterterrorism operations and assistance with managing the relationship with India.
But the negotiations are ongoing, another source told CNN, and the terms of the agreement, which has not been finalised, could still change. An agreement was discussed when US officials visited Pakistan, the third source told CNN, adding but it was not yet clear what Pakistan wants or how much the US would be willing to give in return.
Currently, Washington uses Islamadbad’s airspace to reach Afghanistan for ongoing intelligence-gathering efforts. But no formal agreement is in place that can ensure continued access.
The air corridor through Pakistan to Afghanistan may become even more critical if and when the US resumes flights into Kabul to fly out American citizens and others who remain in the country.
Also read: Pakistan rejects India’s request to allow PM Modi to use its airspace, again