Pak dismisses Afghan minister’s allegation about allowing use of its airspace by US for drone attacks

Islamabad: Pakistan has rejected allegations by the Taliban’s acting defence minister about the use of its airspace by the US for drone attacks in Afghanistan, saying his remarks were highly regrettable and defied the norms of responsible diplomatic conduct.

The allegations were made by Mohammad Yaqoob on Sunday, nearly a month after al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed by a missile fired from a CIA drone against his hideout in central Kabul on July 31.

The attack was the first known strike by the US on a target in Afghanistan since Washington withdrew its forces from the war-torn country on August 31 last year.

Yaqoob told reporters in Kabul that US drones have been entering Afghanistan via Pakistan’s airspace.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmed said in an overnight statement that Pakistan has noted, with deep concern, the allegation by the Acting Defence Minister of Afghanistan regarding the use of Pakistan’s air space 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, he said.

Pakistan reaffirmed its belief in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states and said that it 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 spokesperson said.

Pakistani authorities have previously denied involvement in the US drone strike it carried out in Kabul that killed 71-year-old Zawahiri.

Border tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have risen since the Taliban seized power last year, with Islamabad claiming militant groups are carrying out regular attacks from the neighbouring country.

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