No truth in reports China setting up military bases in Pakistan: Qureshi

F.P. Report

MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has refuted reports that Beijing is mulling setting up military bases in Pakistan.

On Thursday, the United States Defense Department had stated that China was seeking to establish military bases around the world to protect its investments in its ambitious One Belt One Road global infrastructure program.

The Pentagon report said that China will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries.

“The baseless claims are being spread by the enemies of Pakistan including India,” Foreign Minister Qureshi said while speaking to the media in Multan on Saturday.

The minister said that New Delhi had also failed to link the Pulwama incident with the United Nations Security Council resolution to list Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

Commenting on Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), he said no one can cast doubts on patriotism of residents of erstwhile FATA, who he added, had always been a part of Pakistan.

“[However] our security agencies have evidence against certain individuals for receiving funding from Afghan and Indian intelligence agencies … they want to destabilise the country.”

Commenting on domestic politics, Qureshi said that a “gang of four” was taking all decisions in Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif stepped down as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman.

Earlier on May 2, Shehbaz decided to abandon the chairmanship of the parliament’s key accountability forum.

“It is interesting how he [Shehbaz] decided to step down from the PAC chairmanship overnight,” he said, adding that even PML-N leaders had no idea that the PAC chairman would be replaced.

The federal minister said the government would raise the issue in the National Assembly on May 6.

“We have heard that this ‘gang of four’ doesn’t even take the parliamentary members on board before taking decisions,” Qureshi said.

He questioned the reasoning given on Shehbaz’s decision, saying, “If his health does not allow him to continue, then why he isn’t relinquishing the post of opposition leader … if he is healthy enough to serve on that post then why not as the PAC chairman too.”

Qureshi asked how the PML-N leader decided to leave the post after fighting so hard to head the committee.

The foreign minister went on to say that even the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership was not taken on board on nomination of Rana Tanveer for the now vacant post.