Pakistan FO rebuffs allegations of ‘air support’ to Afghan Taliban
Pakistan has rejected allegations made by a senior Afghan official that it had provided “close air support” to the Afghan Taliban after the armed group took over a key border crossing between the two countries, a Pakistani foreign ministry statement says.
Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Thursday evening alleged that Pakistani forces were supporting the Afghan Taliban after they took control of the Spin Boldak border crossing with Pakistan in Kandahar province earlier this week.
Saleh had alleged that the Pakistani air force had “issued official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force”.
Islamabad strongly denied the claim, with a Foreign Office statement saying Pakistan “took necessary measures within its territory to safeguard our own troops and population”.
Kabul “conveyed to Pakistan its intention of carrying out air operation inside its territory” opposite the Chaman border crossing, it said.
Pakistan “responded positively” to her “right to act in its territory […] In spite of [the fact that] very close border operations [are] 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 statement added.
While we acknowledge Kabul’s right to “undertake actions on its sovereign territory”, the PAF “never communicated anything” to its Afghanistan counterpart.
“Such statements undermine Pakistan’s sincere efforts to play its part in an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led solution,” the Foreign Office asserted.
The statement further recalled Islamabad rescued and returned to Afghanistan “with respect and dignity” 40 of its troops who fled to Pakistan.
It said Pakistan’s military also offered to provide Afghan security forces with all logistical support it had requested.
“We remain committed to peace in Afghanistan and shall continue to endeavour towards this end irrespective of the detractors,” the statement added.
“It is, however, important that at this critical juncture, all energies are focused on achieving an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan.”