US in talks to continue using Pakistan airspace for Afghanistan

Defense Under-Secretary Colin Kohl tells Senate committee
Photo: File
Photo: File

US Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kohl that the US is in talks with Pakistan “to keep the air line of communication open” for Afghanistan.

Kohl said this during a briefing of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee on security in Afghanistan and in South and Central Asia.

This development comes days after Pakistan’s Foreign Office rejected a CNN report that claimed that the President Joe Biden’s administration has told US lawmakers that the US was nearing a formal agreement to use Pakistan’s airspace to carry out military operations in Afghanistan.

The foreign office had said that “no such understanding was in place. Pakistan and the US have longstanding cooperation on regional security and counter-terrorism and the two sides remain engaged in regular consultations”.

Senator Deb Fischer, who was also present at the briefing, asked if the US had been able to secure any basing rights agreements with any of the countries bordering Afghanistan since the option of conducting over-the-horizon counter-terrorism operation (which means ability to strike targets without putting American boots on the ground) because of the landlocked status of Afghanistan.

“We have arrangements already in the Gulf as you know. We are in conversation with Pakistan to keep the air line of communication open,” said secretary Kohl. “We also have conversation Pakistan and Tajikistan which we can talk about in the close session.”

Answering a question by Senator Fischer if he was aware of reports that before August takeover of Taliban, the Afghan forces had not been paid for months, Kohl said that they were broadly aware. He, however, admitted that the US administration’s “visibility to exact conditions were highly degraded”.

“We all should be humbled that we have all known less about Afghanistan than we thought we did,”, he said.

Pakistan

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