Wednesday, 22 September 2021 02:23 GMT

US Eyes Indian Bases as Staging Ground for Strikes in Afghanistan


(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken | File photo

Antony Blinken says US will reassess its relationship with Pakistan

New Delhi: The US is in touch with New Delhi on using airfields in India as staging areas for aerial strikes in Afghanistan, while it will reassess its relationship with Pakistan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a Senate Committee on the pullout from Afghanistan.

President Joe Biden's administration is“deeply engaged” with New Delhi, Antony Blinken said, testifying before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives – the lower house of the American Congress.
Binken's comments come days before PM Narendra Modi will meet US President Joe Biden on September 24 at the Quad Summit, possibly followed by a bilateral interaction.

“I'm talking Northwest India as a potential because, Qatar, and Doha, are just a little bit too far,'' said Blinken when asked if the Biden Administration had reached out to New Delhi for using“over-the-horizon” (OTH) capabilities from“staging areas” in north-west India for neutralising potential threats to the United States in and around Afghanistan, in view of the collusion between the Taliban and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.

Blinken refused to elaborate, observing that,“let me just say generally we're deeply engaged with India, across the board, with regard to any specifics about over the horizon capabilities and the plans that we put in place.''

The Pentagon's last over-the-horizon strike had killed nine civilians instead of a suicide bomber it had thought was heading for the Kabul airport.

In revision to his Afghanistan policy, US commander-in-chief Joe Biden had told the presser at the White House that after the military pull out, as the threat from terrorism continues in its pernicious nature, and risks spilling into other countries, US' counterterrorism strategy“has to change”. He then stressed,“We will maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries, we just don't need to fight a ground war to do it.” He further stated that his administration will opt for what's called“over-the-horizon capabilities”, which means the US military forces can strike terrorists and targets“without American boots on the ground”. He asserted:“ISIS-K: We are not done with you yet.”

Separately, US President Biden, as well a spokesman for his administration said that America will rely on“over-the-horizon” military capabilities to snub growing threats of terrorism in the Central Asian region. The United States will“act swiftly and decisively as needed,” they stressed, according to the White House.

Though terrorism continued to remain a threat and spread around the world, the US no longer required to deploy a large number of soldiers overseas to combat the menace as it had now developed the“over-the-horizon” capabilities of carrying out aerial surveillance and launch drones to eliminate such threats, they argued, justifying the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. But what may limit the US’ capabilities of launching drone attacks on the intended targets in the region is the fact that some of the airbases it had earlier used for the purpose are no longer available to it after its withdrawal from Afghanistan. The nearest air bases the US can use are in Qatar, Kuwait and other countries in the Gulf far away from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region where the targets may be located – a fact Green pointed out while asking Blinken about the Biden Administration's discussion with New Delhi. New Delhi did not officially make any comment on Green's query or the reply given by Blinken.

PM Modi to visit US

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to travel to the US later this month to meet US President Joe Biden, and participate in the first in-person Quad Summit-level meeting on 24 September, sources in New Delhi revealed.

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