Islamabad: The United States has been pushing Pakistan for permission to establish bases in Balochistan for intelligence operations against bordering Iran, according to a media report on Monday.

The "outburst in America for Balochistan", including a resolution introduced in the US Congress seeking the recognition of the Baloch people's right to self- determination, is part of the move to set up intelligence bases close to the Iranian border, an Pakistani unnamed official was quoted as saying by a newspaper.

The official indicated that the Congressional hearing and resolution were part of "pressure tactics".

"They (Americans) want to use our soil against Iran, which we can never allow," the official said.

Two officials from security agencies and one from diplomatic circles confirmed to the daily that American diplomats and military leaders had requested permission for their agents to operate near the Iranian border in
Balochistan.

The revelation came days after a bill was moved in the US House of Representatives, blaming Pakistani security agencies for abductions and extra-judicial killings in Balochistan and calling for the recognition of the right to self-determination.

It also followed a trilateral summit in Islamabad of the Presidents of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.

The officials said US authorities were ostensibly seeking Pakistan's permission to establish bases in Balochistan to counter the activities of the Afghan Taliban, whom they blame for operating from the provincial capital of Quetta.

Islamabad has denied the presence of an Afghan Taliban shura or council in Quetta.

The West has also expressed concern over Tehran's nuclear ambitions while the US is pressuring Pakistan not to go ahead with a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline project with Iran.

Recent reports in the Pakistani media have said that Islamabad has turned down US requests to set up a consulate in Quetta.

At last week's trilateral summit, the Presidents of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan agreed not to allow the territory of their countries to be used against each other.

In a speech at a public rally in December last year, President Asif Ali Zardari said he would not allow Pakistan to become part of any other war in the region.

Zardari also said no one could pressure Pakistan not to trade with any country, and experts said this was a reference to US efforts to prevent Islamabad from going ahead with the gas pipeline project.

(Agencies)