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Balochistan Information Minister proposes US drone bases in Pakistan

Achakzai said Islamabad should offer drone bases to the US, which should target Al-Qaeda and other militants’ sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

Balochistan Information Minister proposes US drone bases in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: After the deadly suicide attack that martyred over two-dozen soldiers of the Pakistan security forces in Dera Ismail Khan (DIK) district on Monday, Balochistan province’s Interim Information MinisterJan Achakzaihas proposed offering drone bases to the United States to counter the terrorism threat emanating from Afghanistan.

The reported proposition by Achakzai has raised many eyebrows, as drone strikes have a long historical background of strong opposition by various Pakistani governments, terming them as “counter-productive”.

But Achakzai thinks otherwise as he expressed his anger over the December 12 attack, which claimed lives of at least 24 soldiers when miltiants rammed an explosive-laden truck into a security post in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa’s Dera Ismail Khan district.

The military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), confirmed the attack in a statement, saying, "The terrorists rammed the vehicle after their attempts to gain entry were effectively thwarted."

The first car bomb was followed by another suicide attack, collapsing the building and causing multiple casualties. The attack was carried out by at least six terrorists, who were neutralised, the ISPR maintained.

“The DI Khan attack has crossed all the national security redlines of Pakistan," said Achakzai.

While proposing Islamabad to offer drone bases to the United States, Achakzai also proposed at least seven counter-terrorism proposals, which include reprisal attacks in Afghanistan, closure of borders, sending back Afghan refugees, and gathering of political opposition of the Afghan Taliban in Islamabad.

Achakzai said Islamabad should offer drone bases to the US, which should target Al-Qaeda and other militants’ sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

"Send out a message to Afghan Taliban: We will no longer tolerate any double game. Enough is enough," said Achakzai.

Achakzai’s proposition has come at a critical time, when Pakistan Army Chief General Syed Asim Munir is in the US holding important meetings with officials in the Biden administration, the Pentagon and the State Department.

However, experts say that Achakzai’s proposition may not be catered to at official quarters because Islamabad has publicly opposed drone attacks, terming them a violation of its sovereignty.

It should be noted that the US carried out hundreds of drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal belt near Afghanistan’s border from the year 2004 to 2018, killing thousands. However, it has always been a point of argument that most of the casualties from drone strikes have been of civilians.

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary had summoned the charge’ d’affairs of the interim Afghan government, handing over a strong demarche, calling for a thorough investigation and action against the perpetrators, publicly condemn the incident and hand over terrorists of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership to Pakistan.

“The terrorist attack is yet another reminder of the terrorist threat to peace and stability in the region. We must act resolutely with all our collective might to defeat this menace. Pakistan remains steadfast in its commitment to combat terrorism," the Foreign Secretary said in a statement.

The call was reiterated during the weekly briefing at Pakistan Foreign Office earlier on Thursday, calling on the Afghan Taliban to take action against the DI Khan attack perpetrators and hand them over to Pakistan.

“Afghanistan must apprehend the offenders of this brutal attack and turn the TTP leadership over to Pakistan. The nation expects the government in Afghanistan to take solid and certifiable measures to prevent their country’s soil from being used by terrorist organisations," said Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch.

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