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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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IEA defense minister meets with former generals

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

Defense Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Mawluvi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid has met with former senior military officers and assured them that their problems will be resolved and their security will be ensured.

According to a statement issued by the defense ministry on Wednesday, the defense minister and Chief of Army Staff, Qari Fasihuddin Fitrat, met with generals of the former government and several other ex-military officials.

“The whole goal now is peace, security and defense of territorial integrity, and we have to preserve this Islamic system at any cost,” Mujahid told the generals.

The former military personnel included lieutenant general Afzal Aman, lieutenant general Mohammad Zaman Ahmadzai, major general Shaor Gul, major general Nabiullah, brigadier general Farid, colonel Afandi and several other generals and former corps commanders, read the statement.

At the meeting Mujahid said that their only aim is to restore peace in the country and heal the past wounds. He said that bringing an end to prejudice needed sincerity and love.

The minister listened to the problems and recommendations of the former military officers and promised them their issues would be resolved. He also assured them of their security.

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Iran resumes issuing visas to Afghans in Herat

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(Last Updated On: February 1, 2023)

Local officials in Herat say that the process of issuing Iranian visas to Afghans has resumed in the province after a pause of two months.

A private company has been authorized as Iranian visa application center in Herat, but travel agencies which used to offer services to the applicants criticize the move.

They say that this process was put out to tender and seven companies were selected to offer visa services, but this process has been given exclusively to one company.

“We used to do this for 150 afghanis, but this company charges 350 afghanis,” said Abdul Waheed Amiri, the manager of a travel agency in Herat.

Currently, more than 300 travel agencies are operating in Herat city.

Local officials in Herat say that the company that is authorized as Iranian visa application center is an Iran-linked agency.

“Iran has set agents for itself in three parts of Herat city. The agency of the diplomatic mission of Iran operates here,” said Naeemulhaq Haqqani, the head of Herat’s information and culture department.

The process of issuing Iranian visas resumed in Herat since three days ago, but visa applicants are not satisfied with this process and say that they wait day and night for their visas to be issued.

“We have been visiting here for three days. The Islamic Emirate says that the visa is suspended, but it will be opened when we leave here. People are not taken care of,” said Fraidoon, a visa applicant.

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Muttaqi tells Pakistan to stop blaming Afghanistan for its insecurity

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(Last Updated On: February 1, 2023)

Referring to Pakistan’s concerns about terrorism threats emanating from Afghanistan, Amir Khan Muttaqi, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), on Wednesday called on Islamabad to stop blaming Afghanistan for insecurity.

Speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate a drug addiction treatment center in Kabul, Muttaqi said that the root of Pakistan’s security problems is in the country itself and should not be attributed to Afghanistan.

He suggested the government of Pakistan do more investigations into Monday’s mosque bombing in Peshawar, especially due to the extent of damage. He said it doesn’t look like it was a suicide bomber or an IED.

Muttaqi said that Afghanistan is not a terrorist haven.

“If someone says that Afghanistan is the haven of terrorism, they also say that terrorism knows no boundaries. If terrorism was in Afghanistan, it would spread to China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran. Today, all these countries are safe. Afghanistan is also safe,” Muttaqi said.

The event was also addressed by Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani who suggested that the international community is exercising double standards over humanitarian aid.

“You claim day and night that you are supporters of human rights. If you can’t provide three billion [dollars] in aid to these people (addicts), provide at least one billion,” Haqqani said.

The administrative deputy of the prime minister also criticized the regional and Islamic countries for not cooperating with Afghanistan in finding alternative crops for poppy cultivation.

“In providing alternative crops to farmers, neither the neighboring countries, nor the Islamic countries, nor the countries of the world, have provided any kind of assistance to the Afghan people and the Afghan government until today,” Abdul Salam Hanafi said.

Thousands of addicts are expected to be treated in the newly inaugurated facility called “Aghoosh.”

Abdulhaq Hamkar, deputy interior minister for counternarcotics, said that the establishment of the facility has cost about 75 million afghanis.

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