KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The government of Pakistan is entertaining a Canadian request to use its military bases during next year’s scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Canada made the request several months ago, prior to its sudden eviction from its principal logistics base in the United Arab Emirates.
“They want to use our military infrastructure to remove their troops and supplies from Afghanistan,” said a source in Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the issue.
The source said the decision will be taken in conjunction with the country’s military leadership, but could not provide a timeline for when it would be made.
Mian Gul Akbar Zab, the Pakistani high commissioner in Ottawa, said Wednesday that talks have been ongoing to use ports in Karachi to ship out thousands of containers of non-sensitive material.
An agreement was to be reached when the details are hammered out, he added.
“I don’t see a hitch there,” Zab said. “Nothing has been finalized as of yet.”
The containers would, however, have to be transported over land, making security an issue. In recent weeks, several NATO convoys were attacked by insurgents in Pakistan after a dispute with the United States triggered a border closure.
Canada’s desire to use Pakistani military bases takes on new significance, given the Canadian mission will lose its central supply line into Afghanistan next month.
The U.A.E. abruptly terminated an agreement last week that had allowed the Canadian military to use a base in Dubai, known as Camp Mirage, to supply its troops in Kandahar.
After Canada balked at demands to increase landing rights for Emirian airlines, the wealthy Gulf nation informed Ottawa it had a month to clear out of Mirage.
That has complicated the military’s plans to return troops and equipment now in Kandahar back to Canada come July 2011, when the combat mission ends.