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Pakistan Says Taliban’s Allegations Could Affect Bilateral Ties

Pakistan Says Taliban’s Allegations Could Affect Bilateral Ties

Afghan Interim Defence Minister Mullah Muhammad Yaqoob had last week alleged that Pakistan was allowing the US to operate drones from its soil against the war-torn country.

Taliban celebrate one year of rule
Taliban rule in Afghanistan.(File photo-Representational image) Photo: AP/Ebrahim Noroozi

Voicing concern over the Taliban's claims that Pakistan was allowing the US to operate drone from its soil against Afghanistan, Islamabad has privately conveyed in categorical terms to the de facto rulers of Kabul that such allegations will be detrimental for the bilateral ties.

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, Afghan Interim Defence Minister Mullah Muhammad Yaqoob last week alleged that Pakistan was allowing the US to operate drones from its soil against the war-torn country.

“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,” he said.

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.

Quoting official sources, The Express Tribune newspaper in a report on Sunday said that Pakistan was dismayed by Yaqoob's allegations, reflecting the same mindset of the previous Afghan administrations that blamed their own follies on Islamabad.

Pakistan was not expecting such a public statement from the senior Afghan Taliban leader given the fact that Islamabad had done so much for the interim government since the Taliban returned to power and has privately conveyed in categorical terms to the de facto rulers of Kabul that such public outbursts will be detrimental for the bilateral ties, the report said, quoting sources.

Yaqoob's allegations may undermine the relationship between the two countries at a time when Pakistan is not happy with the continuing problem posed by outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliates, the report said.

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.

The presence and killing of Zawahiri in Kabul was embarrassing for the Taliban, who repeatedly pledged not to allow Afghan soil to be used again by terrorist groups. The Taliban in particular made a commitment in Doha to cut ties with al Qaeda.

Following the killing of Zawahiri, questions were raised which base the US had used for drone strike. Pakistan had denied its involvement and clarified that neither the drone from Pakistan nor its air space was used.

Last week, Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar had said that "in the absence of any evidence", Yaqoob's "conjectural allegations are highly regrettable and defy the norms of responsible diplomatic conduct".

Pakistan, he said, 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," Iftikar said.

(With PTI inputs)

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