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World

Pakistan to allow US air, ground access for its Afghanistan presence: Pentagon

  • David F Helvey, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Affairs told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Saturday that the US government will continue to engage Pakistan due to the country’s significant role in the Afghan peace process.
  • In March, The New York Times reported that American intelligence agencies have warned Biden that the Taliban may overrun most of Afghanistan within a couple of years and would potentially allow Al-Qaeda again.
Updated 24 May 2021

Pakistan has allowed the US military to have overflight and access to support its presence in Afghanistan, a Pentagon official has told US lawmakers. 

David F Helvey, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Affairs told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Saturday that the US government will continue to engage Pakistan due to the country’s significant role in the Afghan peace process.

When asked by the committee members to outline Pakistan’s position in Afghanistan’s future, the Pentagon official said that “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.”

During the hearing, Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat asked the Pentagon official if “Are you confident of our [US] regional partners and their capacity and commitment to drive terrorists out of the region?”

Responding to Manchin’s question, Helvey said “We will have to work with our local and regional partners, and we want to continue developing those capabilities and those partnerships to be able to ensure that we have the right of framework to address the threats.”

US President Joe Biden has announced to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by September 11. 

Under the landmark Doha Accord signed last year, the US agreed to a phased and conditions-based withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan within 14 months of signing the accord.

As the US forces prepare to withdraw, the Taliban have accelerated attacks across the country with US intelligence agencies warning that the Afghan military is not capable of defending the country without the support of international troops.  

In March, The New York Times reported that American intelligence agencies have warned Biden that the Taliban may overrun most of Afghanistan within a couple of years and would potentially allow Al-Qaeda again.

Last week, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Pakistan desires a broad-based and comprehensive partnership with America and will continue to support peace efforts in Afghanistan.

“Foreign Minister Qureshi reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support for the Afghan peace process while underscoring that achieving a peaceful political solution in Afghanistan was the shared responsibility of all Afghan parties as well as the key international and regional stakeholders,” the FO said in the statement.