Conflicts & War

Pakistan rejects Taliban claim of allowing US drones to use its airspace

Islamabad, Aug. 29 (EFE).- Pakistan on Monday said it was “deeply concerned” over the allegations of acting Afghan defense minister Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob that Islamabad was allowing United States’ drones to use its airspace to enter the neighboring country.

The claim by the Afghan minister came after US President Joe Biden announced earlier this month that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had been killed in an American drone strike in Kabul.

“In the absence of any evidence, as acknowledged by the Afghan Minister himself, such conjectural allegations are highly regrettable and defy the norms of responsible diplomatic conduct,” Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement on Monday.

The statement added that Islamabad has noted the allegations “with deep concern,” and reaffirmed its belief in the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.”

The Afghan defense minister had made the claims during a press conference on Sunday.

“Based on our information, these [drones] enter Afghanistan through Pakistan and use Pakistan’s airspace,” said Yaqoob.

“We ask Pakistan not to use its airspace against us,” he was further quoted as saying.

A Taliban government spokesperson earlier told local broadcaster Tolo News that US drones continued to fly over Afghanistan, terming it a violation of Afghan territory.

In its statement, the Pakistani foreign ministry condemned “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations” and urged Kabul to fulfill its commitment to not allow Afghan territory to be used for terrorism against other countries.

Pakistan has repeatedly alleged that the leadership of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, a local Taliban faction, is hiding in eastern Afghanistan and demanded that the Afghan government prevent TTP’s cross border terror activities.

Washington had announced on Aug.1 that the al-Zawahiri had been killed in an American anti-terrorist drone operation in Kabul that bombed his residence when he was in the balcony.

However, the Taliban insisted last week that they had not found the al-Qaeda leader’s body at the site, which had been “completely destroyed.”

According to the White House, al-Zawahiri had moved with his family to Kabul earlier this year from Pakistan, where his predecessor, Osama bin Laden, had been killed in another US operation in 2011.

The presence of al-Zawahiri on Afghan soil would be in violation of the Doha agreement signed by the Taliban in February 2020 with the US, which led to the departure of US troops from the country after two decades of conflict.


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