Conflicts & War

Pakistan says not giving military support to Taliban after Kabul allegations

Islamabad, July 16 (EFE).- The Pakistan government Friday denied giving military air support to the Taliban near the frontier town in Afghanistan after the insurgent captured the vital border crossing two days ago.

The denial came hours after Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh claimed on Thursday night that the Pakistan Air Force had issued an “official warning” not to attack the Taliban in the Spin Boldak area.

Saleh said the Pakistan military warned that any move to dislodge the Taliban from the border town would be “repelled by the Pakistan Air Force.”

“(The) Pakistan Air Force is now providing close air support to Taliban in certain areas,” the vice president claimed on Twitter.

The Pakistan Foreign Ministry denied the allegations.

“The Pakistan Air Force never communicated anything to the Afghan Air Force,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the Afghan army had informed Pakistan about a possible air operation against the Taliban on its side of the border, to which it responded positively.

” In spite of very close border operations normally not acceded to by internationally accepted norms, standards, procedures, Pakistan took necessary measures within its territory to safeguard our own troops and population,” the foreign ministry said.

Pakistan also recalled that it had recently rescued 40 Afghan soldiers who had crossed the border and returned them to Afghanistan “with respect and dignity.”

Saleh reiterated the allegation after the Pakistani denial.

“For over 20 years Pakistan denied the existence of Quetta Shura or presence of Talib terrorist leaders on its soil. Those familiar with this pattern, Afghan or foreign, know exactly that issuing a statement of denial is just a pre-written paragraph,” the Afghan vice president said.

Afghanistan and the United States accuse Pakistan of providing safe havens to the Taliban on their territory.

Islamabad has always denied the accusation.

The Taliban seized control of the vital border crossing with Pakistan in the southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan on Wednesday after several days of intense fighting.

The Afghan army is trying to regain control of the crossing located near the Durand Line border with Pakistan.

Kandahar was the birthplace of the Taliban in the 1990s when the country was battling a deadly civil war.

The border crossing, 110 km from the provincial capital of Kandahar city, is one of the critical trade routes connecting Pakistan with southern Afghanistan.

The war-battered landlocked country relies heavily on Pakistan for land routes and seaports to conduct international trade.

The Taliban captured some 130 district centers across the country and have surrounded several provincial capitals in the past two months, making unprecedented territorial gains in the last 20 of war after a US invasion ousted the Islamist group.

The sweeping offensive by the Taliban began after the US and NATO forces began their final phase of troops withdrawal on May 1. EFE

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