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Pakistan rejects reports of new US military base on its soil

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(Last Updated On: May 25, 2021)

Islamabad on Monday rejected reports of the US military setting up a base inside Pakistan as it withdraws troops from Afghanistan.

“There is no US military or air base in Pakistan, nor is any such proposal envisaged. Any speculation on this account is baseless and irresponsible and should be avoided,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson said in a press release.

He further said Pakistan and the US 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,” he stated.

This comes after reports emerged this week that Pakistan has allowed the US to use its airspace and ground access.

David F Helvey, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Affairs, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee last week that the United States would continue its conversation with Pakistan because it had a critical role in restoring peace to Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has played an important role in Afghanistan. They supported the Afghan peace process. Pakistan also has allowed us to have overflight and access to be able to support our military presence in Afghanistan,” Helvey had told the committee.

“We will continue our conversations with Pakistan because their support and contribution to the future of Afghanistan, to future peace in Afghanistan, is going to be critical,” he had added.

Sources meanwhile, told Ariana News on Monday that US forces have begun construction of a large military base across the Durand Line.

According to the sources, the base is being built at the Shalozan Kurram Agency area in the Tribal Area inside Pakistan – in the Zazai Aryub district which borders Paktia province in Afghanistan.

Members of the Paktia provincial council told Ariana News that the base is under construction 8km from the Durand Line inside Pakistan and “supplies are being delivered via air and ground every day.”

Colonel Sonny Legget, a spokesman for the US Forces in Afghanistan, however, rejected these reports.

Meanwhile, the National Security Advisers of Pakistan and the United States met in Geneva on Monday.

The meeting between Pakistan NSA Moeed Yusuf and his American counterpart Jake Sullivan is the first in-person high-level contact between the two countries since the Biden administration assumed office in January.

“Both sides had a positive conversation on a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues of mutual interest and agreed to advance practical cooperation on these issues,” Pakistan’s Daily Times reported.

In a tweet, NSA Yusuf said he was “pleased to meet US NSA @JakeSullivan46”, adding that the Pakistan and US delegations had held positive discussions on a range of issues.

The NSAs’ meeting comes days after Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told US lawmakers that Pakistan was seeking a broad-based, strategic partnership with America, which would also cover Afghanistan.

In virtual meetings with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the foreign minister invited a group of 15 US lawmakers to visit Pakistan in June for consultations with their Pakistani counterparts and officials on how to improve bilateral relations.

On Monday, however, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had a phone conversation with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

According to a US Defense Department statement issued by Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, Austin and Bajwa discussed shared regional interests and objectives.

“During the call, Secretary Austin reiterated his appreciation for Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan Peace Negotiations and expressed his desire to continue to build on the U.S. – Pakistan bilateral relationship,” the statement read.

“Secretary Austin and General Bajwa discussed regional dynamics and our shared interest in security and stability in the region,” read the statement.

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India hosting key SCO anti-terror meeting

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(Last Updated On: May 16, 2022)

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) anti-terror body Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) representatives came together Monday for the start of a three-day meeting in New Delhi.

Among those attending is a three-member Pakistani delegation that arrived in India on Saturday via the Wagah border.

The situation in Afghanistan and the worsening humanitarian crisis in the country is expected to be on the agenda.

According to Indian media reports, New Delhi is also expected to raise issues regarding the security situation in Afghanistan.

The RATS is the Executive Committee of the SCO, headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, which is a permanent unit of the organisation which serves to promote cooperation of member states against terrorism, separatism and extremism.

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IEA says girls’ schools will reopen soon

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(Last Updated On: May 16, 2022)

Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), and deputy minister of the IEA’s Ministry of Information and Culture, said progress has been made at a meeting of religious scholars and girls’ schools would reopen soon.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul on Sunday Mujahid said: “Good progress has been made at the meeting of the country’s scholars regarding the reopening of girls’ schools and other major political issues, and girls’ schools will be reopened in the near future.”

He said that the meeting, attended by tribal leaders and influential people of the country, is focusing on major political, security and social issues.

“The Ulema are consulting on the reopening of girls’ schools, and progress will be made soon,” said Mujahid.

Meanwhile, Anas Haqqani, a senior member of the Islamic Emirate, said on Wednesday that a meeting of religious scholars would be held to discuss the issue of girls going to school.

The closure of girls’ schools above the sixth grade sparked a major outcry around the world with the international community repeatedly calling for schools to reopen.

Officials at the Ministry of Education of the Islamic Emirate have said that they will reopen girls’ schools in the near future within the framework of Islamic principles.

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Uzbekistan to host international conference on Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 16, 2022)

Tashkent will host a high-level international conference on Afghanistan at the end of July, Uzbekistan’s interim Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Norov announced.

Norov said the key focus would be on security, political stability and the socio-economic development of the region.

“As for Afghanistan, unfortunately, we are seeing a decrease in the attention of the international community to the situation in this country. Meanwhile, the situation there remains difficult, due to the acute economic crisis and the difficult humanitarian situation, challenges to regional security and stability remain,” he said.

Tashkent Times reported that Norov felt the international community should take responsibility for the present and future of Afghanistan and provide continued assistance to resolve problems in the country.

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