US nears deal to use Pakistan’s airspace to conduct operations in Afghanistan: Report
The US is nearing a formal agreement with Pakistan to use its airspace to conduct military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan, CNN reported on Saturday.
Pakistan reportedly expressed a desire to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the US in exchange for assistance with its own counterterrorism efforts and help in managing its relationship with India, sources told CNN.
The report comes as the US scrambles to ensure it can conduct counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan against ISIS and other terrorist groups, after the US withdrew its forces from Afghanistan in August, ending more than 20 years of American presence in the country.
The Taliban have threatened the US last month with “negative consequence” if Washington did not stop flying drones over Afghanistan.
Since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15, ISIS has ramped up its attacks in the country, targeting Taliban members and Afghan citizens with several bombings.
The Taliban has tried to downplay the threat of ISIS, claiming it wasn’t a major danger. The group also refused to cooperate with the US to contain extremist groups in Afghanistan.
The US believes that terrorist groups can easily reconstitute in Afghanistan under Taliban rules and is concerned the country will become a terrorism haven and a launching pad for international attacks.
The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley said in September there is a “real possibility” that al-Qaeda or ISIS could reconstitute in Afghanistan under Taliban rule within the next six to 36 months.