The Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, has dismissed Afghanistan’s allegations that Pakistan had allowed an American drone access to its airspace to enter Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s Acting Minister for Defence, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, claimed on Sunday that American drones have been infiltrating Afghanistan via Pakistan’s airspace, and cited the recent killing of Al-Qaeda’s Leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
He contended that the drones have been entering the country via Pakistan’s airspace as per its intelligence.
While a spokesperson for the US Central Intelligence Agency refused to comment on this, Minister Zardari told Reuters that he had confirmed that the drone strike did not involve them traveling through Pakistani airspace, and that he would re-check after Sunday’s allegations. Regardless, he expects that Pakistan will maintain its take on the matter.
He also opined that it is not the right time to get into such debates or make accusations, and added that he was more focused on the flood relief operations in the country as millions of people have been displaced by the recent floods.
I really don’t believe that this is a time that I wish to get into a debate with anyone or to have accusations … frankly, I’m focused on the flood relief efforts.
The Foreign Minister proceeded to rhetorically remind Afghanistan that its regime had assured its people and the international community that it would not allow its soil to be used by terrorists.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) issued a statement acknowledging and expressing concerns over Yaqoob’s remarks.
The statement read, “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 reaffirms 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 fulfillment of international commitments made by Afghanistan not to allow the use of its territory for terrorism against any country.
On the other hand, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, alleged that the Taliban has “grossly violated” the 2020 agreement on US-led forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan by harboring Al-Zawahiri, whereas the Taliban is still investigating the July airstrike and Zawahiri’s body is yet to be found.
Earlier in August, the MoFA had denied being involved in or having knowledge of the US drone strike that had killed Al-Zawahiri in Kabul this July.