The Taliban has charged Pakistan with allowing US drones to infiltrate Afghanistan through its airspace.
At a press conference held on Sunday in Kabul, the Taliban’s acting defense minister said that US drones had been entering Afghanistan through Pakistan.
“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,” Afghanistan’s acting minister of defence Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob said on Sunday.
Foreign Minister of Pakistan has refuted the charges.
The US claimed it carried out a drone operation in Kabul in July that killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri, although Pakistani authorities have repeatedly refuted this claim and have indicated they had no prior knowledge of it.
In a statement released late on Sunday, the Pakistani foreign ministry described the accusations as “conjectural” and “highly regrettable.”
Afghanistan must uphold its promises “not to permit the use of its territory for terrorism against any country,” he continued.
Most recently, in relation to the Zawahiri issue, the Pakistani military has consistently vehemently denied permitting the use of its airspace.
When contacted by Reuters, a CIA representative declined to comment.
After the air strike, Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told Reuters that he had checked and had been informed that Pakistani airspace had not been utilized. Following the allegations from Sunday, he said he would check again, but he assumed the situation would remain unchanged.
“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,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said in an interview. Floods in Pakistan have killed more than 1,000 and left millions of people homeless.
“The Afghan regime has promised not only to its own people, but to the international community, that they will not allow their soil to be used for terrorists,” he said.
After the Taliban’s initial administration refused to turn over Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the US conducted an invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 that resulted in the fall of the first Taliban administration.
Since the US withdrew its forces from Afghanistan on August 31 of last year, the drone hit in July that killed Zawahiri, bin Laden’s successor, was the first known US strike on a target there.
According to Mr. Yaqoob, the authorities are looking into US Vice President Joe Biden’s assertion that Zawahiri was killed.
“We will share the details when it is complete,” he said.
Since the Taliban took over on August 15 of last year, tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have increased, according to Islamabad, which claims militant groups regularly launch assaults from the neighboring nation.
A fence Islamabad is building along their 2,700-kilometer border, known as the Durand line, which was set up during colonial times, has angered the Taliban regime, which denies harboring Pakistani fighters.
When Pakistani military airstrikes in eastern Afghanistan in April resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries, relations between the two nations became even more strained.