Pakistan on Sunday rejected Afghan Taliban government’s allegations that the country was allowing the United States to use its air space for drones, terming the charge as defying the diplomatic norms.
The late-night reaction from the Foreign Office came after Afghan Interim Defence Minister Mullah Muhammad Yaqoob alleged that Pakistan was allowing the US to operate drones from its soil.
“According to our information the drones are entering through Pakistan to Afghanistan, they use Pakistan’s airspace, we ask Pakistan, don’t use your airspace against us,” said Mullah Yaqoob, who is the son of former Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Omar.
Responding to allegations, Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said that Pakistan had noted, with deep concern, the allegation by acting defence minister of Afghanistan regarding the use of Pakistan’s airspace in the US counter-terrorism drone operation in Afghanistan.
“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,” Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said.
Pakistan, he added, reaffirmed its belief in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states and condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. “We urge the Afghan interim authorities to ensure the fulfilment of international commitments made by Afghanistan not to allow the use of its territory for terrorism against any country.”
The allegation of the US operating drones from Pakistan surfaced after the recent killing of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul. The al-Qaeda chief, who had $25 million bounty on his head, was killed in a CIA drone strike when he was standing in the balcony of a house in the upscale Kabul neighbourhood.
The presence and killing of Zawahiri in Kabul was embarrassing for the Afghan Taliban, who repeatedly pledged not to allow Afghan soil to be used again by terrorist groups. The Taliban particularly made a commitment in the Doha accord to cut ties with the al-Qaeda.
Following the killing of Zawahiri, questions were raised as to which base the US had used for the drone strike. Pakistan was named one suspect though Islamabad vehemently denied its involvement. The Foreign Office had already clarified that neither the drone from Pakistan nor its airspace was used.
But the latest allegations from the top Taliban leader may undermine relationship between the two countries at a time when Pakistan is not happy with the continuing problem posed by outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and its affiliates.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ