Pakistan provides airspace for US drones, Afghan minister accuses


Pakistan provides airspace for US drones, Afghan minister accuses

US drones continue to be seen flying over Kabul even now, the Afghan defense minister said.


Afghan Defense Minister Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid on Sunday accused Pakistan of providing airspace for US drones to enter his country, calling the incursions a continuation of Washington’s “invasion”.

Mujahid’s comments came less than a month after US President Joe Biden announced the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Kabul.

US drones continue to be seen flying over Kabul even now, Mujahid said.

“Our information shows that they (US drones) are entering Afghanistan from Pakistan, using Pakistani airspace,” Mujahid told reporters when asked where the drones came from.

“We demand that Pakistan not allow its airspace to be used against us.”

There was no immediate response to Mujahid’s comments from the Pakistani military, but it has previously denied allowing use of the country’s airspace, most recently in the Zawahiri case.

The deployment of these drones in Afghanistan is “always a clear invasion of Afghanistan and its airspace by the Americans”, Mujahid said.

“They are doing it shamelessly. We condemn this illegal act and demand that the Americans put an end to it.”

The United States led an invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 that toppled the first Taliban government, after the radical Islamist group refused to hand over al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden on fire following the attacks of September 11.

The drone attack in July that killed Zawahiri, bin Laden’s successor, was the first known US strike on a target in Afghanistan since Washington withdrew its forces from the country on August 31 last year.

Mujahid said authorities are investigating Biden’s allegations that he killed Zawahiri.

“We’ll share details when it’s finished,” he said.

Officials have neither confirmed Zawahiri’s presence in Afghanistan nor acknowledged his death.

Border tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have increased since the Taliban seized power on August 15 last year, with Islamabad saying militant groups carry out regular attacks from the neighboring country.

The Taliban government denies harboring Pakistani militants, but is also infuriated by a fence Islamabad is erecting along its 2,700 kilometer (1,600 mile) border known as the Durand Line, which was drawn at the time colonial.

Ties between the two countries were further strained when Pakistani military airstrikes in eastern Afghanistan killed and injured dozens of people in April.


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