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Pakistan will "absolutely not" allow the CIA to use bases on its soil for cross-border counterterrorism missions after American forces withdraw from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan tells "Axios on HBO" in a wide-ranging interview airing Sunday at 6pm ET.

Why it matters: The quality of counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan is a critical question facing the Biden administration as U.S. forces move closer to total withdrawal by Sept. 11.

  • The Biden administration also is exploring options in Central Asia to maintain intelligence on terrorist networks inside Afghanistan, but that is complicated for a different reason: Those countries are in Vladimir Putin's sphere of influence.

Where it stands: Despite an uneasy relationship with Pakistan, whose military has deep ties to the Taliban, the U.S. has conducted hundreds of drone strikes and cross-border counterterrorism operations from Pakistani soil.

  • But Khan, who was elected in 2018, was unequivocal: Pakistan will not allow the CIA or U.S. special forces to base themselves inside his country ever again, he told Axios.

Between the lines: Khan has long opposed Pakistan cooperating with the U.S. war on terror, but the reality is that he also has no choice but to say this publicly.

  • Close observers say it would be political suicide for Khan to embrace the presence of the CIA or special forces on Pakistani soil.
  • American officials privately are still hopeful they can come to a covert arrangement with Pakistan's powerful military and intelligence services.

CIA Director William Burns did not meet with Khan when he made an unannounced trip to Islamabad recently to meet with the head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, amid questions about how the CIA will adapt after two decades of intelligence and paramilitary operations in Afghanistan.

  • Earlier this month, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the U.S. has had "constructive discussions" with Pakistan about ensuring Afghanistan will never again become a base from which terrorist groups can attack the U.S., but he declined to go into specifics.

What's next: Burns has warned of the "significant risk" of al-Qaeda and ISIS regrouping in Afghanistan. "When the time comes for the U.S. military to withdraw, the U.S. government's ability to collect and act on threats will diminish," he testified in April. "That is simply a fact."

  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Congress this week that it will take militant groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS possibly two years to develop the capability to strike the U.S. homeland.

The bottom line: That risk will only increase if the Afghan government collapses and the country falls into a civil war, Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Mark Milley testified.

  • Getting Pakistan on board with the peace process will be the pivotal factor, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said last month in an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel: "The U.S. now plays only a minor role. The question of peace or hostility is now in Pakistani hands."

Go deeper

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The United States' combat mission against the Islamic State in Iraq will be completed "by the end of the year," President Biden said Monday prior to a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Why it matters: Biden is close to shifting the U.S. military mission in Iraq to a fully advisory role more than 18 years after combat troops were sent to the country under the former President George W. Bush.

How extreme weather feeds inflation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

This summer's extreme weather is having ripple effects that could raise food prices in the U.S. and disrupt diets around the world.

Why it matters: Climate scientists and food supply experts, like those at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, have long warned about the impact of human-caused global warming on prices, food shortages and hunger.

EA Sports is in expansion mode

EA Sports general manager Daryl Holt (left). Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photos: EA Sports

The biggest player in sports video games has plans to get even bigger — on mobile, in football, maybe even with basketball again — EA Sports general manager Daryl Holt said in an exclusive interview with Axios.

Why it matters: Sports gaming doesn’t get much press, but it’s a surging market with increased competition and lots of players up for grabs.