FO rejects Afghan vice president’s claims of providing air support to Taliban

The FO said such statements undermined Pakistan’s sincere efforts

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) of Pakistan today (Friday) strongly rejected Afghanistan Vice President Amrullah Saleh’s accusations against Pakistan Air Force (PAF) trying to help the Taliban.

According to a statement issued in this regard, FO Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that the “Pakistan Air Force (PAF) never communicated anything to the Afghan Air Force”.

Giving the background of the situation, the Foreign Office said the Afghan side conveyed to Pakistan the intention of carrying out air operations inside its territory opposite the Chaman Sector of Pakistan. “Pakistan responded positively to the Afghan government’s right to act in its territory,” he added.

“In spite of very close border operations normally not acceded to by internationally accepted norms and standards, Pakistan took necessary measures within its territory to safeguard its own troops and population”, the spokesperson claimed.

Zahid Hafeez further said Pakistan acknowledged the Afghan government’s right to undertake actions on its sovereign territory. “However, as alleged by the Afghan Vice President, PAF never communicated anything to the Afghan Air Force,” he added.

The FO said such statements undermined Pakistan’s sincere efforts to play its part in an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led solution. “We remain committed to peace in Afghanistan and shall continue to endeavour towards this end irrespective of the detractors,” he added.

“It was important at this critical juncture that all energies were focused on achieving an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan,” the spokesperson concluded.

On Thursday, the Afghan vice president had accused the PAF of warning Afghan security forces that it would retaliate against any move to dislodge Taliban fighters in the strategic border region of Spin Boldak.

“The Pakistan Air Force has 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,” Amrullah Saleh said in a tweet.

He added that the Pakistan Air Force is now “providing close air support to the Taliban in certain areas”. While Amrullah Saleh levelled these serious charges on the Pakistan Air Force, he did not substantiate his allegations with evidence.