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ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) has rejected the Afghanistan’s claims of Pakistani airspace being used for the American drone strike on Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, calling the Afghan Defense Minister Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob’s allegations “highly regrettable” that defied the “norms of responsible diplomatic conduct”.
Earlier, Afghan Defense Minister Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid accused Pakistan of providing airspace for US drones to enter his country, saying the incursions were a continuation of Washington’s “invasion”.
US drones continued to be seen flying over Kabul even now, Mujahid claimed.
In response to the Afghan defense minister’s accusations, the Foreign Office spokesperson said “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.”
The spokesperson reaffirmed Islamabad’s “belief in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states” and condemnation of “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,” said the spokesperson.
It should be noted that Mujahid’s comments came less than a month after US President Joe Biden announced al-Zawahiri’s killing in a drone strike in Kabul.
Pakistan has denied involvement in or advanced knowledge of a drone strike the United States said it carried out in Kabul in July that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
“Our information shows that they (US drones) are entering into Afghanistan from Pakistan, using the airspace of Pakistan,” Mujahid told reporters when asked where the drones were coming from.
“We demand that Pakistan should not allow its airspace to be used against us.”
Deploying these drones into Afghanistan is “still a clear invasion of Afghanistan and its airspace by the Americans”, Mujahid said.
The drone attack in July that killed Zawahiri, Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden’s successor, was the first known strike by the US on a target in Afghanistan since Washington withdrew its forces from the country on August 31 last year.