US nearing deal with Pakistan to use airspace for military operations in Afghanistan: Report

Published on Oct 23, 2021 02:42 PM IST

Currently, Washington is using the airspace for intelligence operations in Afghanistan, the report said.

Taliban fighters patrolling along a street in Kabul (AFP/Image used only for representation)
Taliban fighters patrolling along a street in Kabul (AFP/Image used only for representation)

The United States, which completed its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 30, a day before a self-announced deadline to exit that country, is nearing an agreement with Pakistan to continue its military operations in the war-torn nation, the Biden administration has informed US lawmakers, according to a report. The agreement, once formalised, would see American forces use Pakistan’s airspace for operations in the neighbouring Afghanistan, the report stated.

Islamabad wants a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be signed in exchange for assistance with its own counter-terrorism efforts, CNN reported citing sources, adding that the terms of the deal, though not finalised yet, could still change. Discussions on the agreement are reported to have taken place during a recent visit of some US officials to Islamabad, though it is not yet known what Pakistan wants or how much is Washington willing to concede.

Currently, the said airspace is used by American troops for their ongoing intelligence operations in Afghanistan. However, Washington needs a formal deal to ensure continued access to a critical air corridor within the airspace which is necessary for its forces to reach Afghanistan. The importance of this stretch is highlighted by the fact that it would become even more critical as and when the United States resumes its flights into Afghan capital Kabul to evacuate its Americans and others still left in the country.

In the absence of any formal agreement, the US faces the possibility of Pakistan denying entry to the former’s military aircraft and drones moving towards Afghanistan.

The exit of the US troops from Afghanistan brought to an end their 20-year-long military presence there. The Taliban, which seized power in Kabul on August 15, is ruling the nation for a second time.

(With ANI inputs)


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