Pakistan is ready to partner with the United States for peace in Afghanistan but will not allow US military bases on its soil, Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a statement published Tuesday in a leading US newspaper.
“We just can’t afford it. We have paid an exorbitant price,” the Pakistani leader wrote in the Washington Post ahead of US President Joe Biden’s meeting with Afghan leaders at the White House this weekend.
“If Pakistan agrees to host the US base where Afghanistan is attacked and the Afghan civil war erupts, Pakistan would become the target of terrorist retaliation once more.” he said.
US officials said Biden’s talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan National Reconciliation Council chairman Abdullah Abdullah on Friday will discuss the withdrawal of US troops amid escalating fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban across the country.
On the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote: “We will avoid further conflict.”
“Meanwhile, if the United States, with the most powerful military machine in history, can’t win the war in Afghanistan in 20 years, how will America win it from bases in our country?” he said. “
Pakistan and the United States have common interests in Afghanistan – political settlement, stability, economic development and denial of protection for terrorists, the prime minister said, noting that Islamabad has made every effort to facilitate the Afghan peace process.
“We reject a military takeover of Afghanistan, which would only result in decades of civil strife, because the Taliban will need to be included in every government in order to succeed.”