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SOURCE: THE WEEK

Taliban warned Afghanistan’s neighbours on Wednesday against allowing the United States to operate military bases on their soil. The warning comes after speculation that Pakistan and the US have been exchanging diplomatic calls, indicating that the US could be scouting for a new military base to use against the Taliban. 

The US plans to pull out forces from Afghanistan by September 11. Sonny Leggett, the US military spokesman in Afghanistan, told AFP, that speculation the United States is seeking to set up military bases in Pakistan is “false”. Taliban in a statement said, if a US military base is set up in any neighbouring nation, “it will be a great and historic mistake and disgrace,” and they would “not remain silent in the face of such heinous and provocative acts”.

Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudri on Monday told AFP that “there is no US military or airbase in Pakistan, nor was any such proposal envisaged. Any speculation on this account is baseless and irresponsible and should be avoided.”

On May 26, Afghanistan’s Defence Ministry said the army’s commando forces had released 62 people from a Taliban prison, which included 26 civilians and 36 members of Afghan security forces in the northern province of Baghlan. Four Taliban guards were killed in the overnight operation. 

The withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, which was first placed in 2001, has raised concerns over the fate of the government in Kabul, as violent incidents by the Taliban still ensue.

The Taliban and Washington, in 2020, entered into a landmark deal that has resulted in US President Biden promising that American forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of Al Qaeda attacks in the US. The Taliban, in return, has agreed to not let jihadist groups like Al Qaeda and Islamic State set up base in Afghanistan. 

In the early 2000s, nations neighbouring Afghanistan allowed the American military to establish bases to fight the Taliban. But in recent years, such support has largely ended, though some nations allow the use of airspace. 

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, “I want to make it clear on the floor of the house … that Pakistan, under the leadership of Imran Khan, will never allow any American base on its soil.”