The army chief of staff Qari Fasihuddin Fitrat, acting defense minister of Afghanistan Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid and Taliban defense ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khawarizmi speak during a press conference in Kabul.
- Pakistani authorities have denied involvement in or advanced knowledge of the US drone strike that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
- Acting Defense Minister Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob claims American drones have been entering Afghanistan via Pakistan.
- The Taliban said it is investigating the July air strike and that it has not found the Al Qaeda leader’s body.
The Taliban’s acting defense minister on Sunday claimed Pakistan had allowed American drones to use its airspace to access Afghanistan, a charge Pakistan has recently denied following a US air strike in Kabul.
Acting Minister of Defense Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob told reporters at a news conference in Kabul that American drones have been entering Afghanistan via 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,” he said. Pakistan’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pakistani authorities have 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.
Yaqoob’s comments could exacerbate tension between the neighboring nations at a time when the Afghan Taliban are mediating talks between Pakistan and a Pakistani Taliban militant group. Afghanistan also relies heavily on trade with Pakistan as the country experiences an economic crisis. The Taliban said they are investigating the July air strike and that it has not found the Al Qaeda leader’s body.
The Taliban’s interim Defence Minister Mullah Yaqub on Sunday has claimed that the US drones were entering the war-torn country through Pakistan, the media reported.
While narrating the one-year performance of the ministry alongside the Army Chief Mullah Fasih Uddin and the spokesperson of the ministry at a press conference in Kabul, Yaqub said: “We hadn’t caught all routes of the drones but our intelligence reported that the US drones were entering through Pakistan.”
“We demand that Pakistan does not allow its air space to be used by the US,” he said, adding that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) radar system was destroyed when the Americans evacuated the country last year in August, ” Express Tribune reported citing Yaqub. The defense minister also stated that the number of IEA’s national army reached 150, 000 soldiers with eight border groups and each consisting of 3, 000 personnel. Yaqub further demanded all neighboring countries return their helicopters and airplanes and also added that no one would be allowed to station their defense items on their soil.
While answering questions he said that the investigation of the killing of Al-Qaeda Chief Ayman-al-Zawahiri, who was killed in a CIA drone strike in Kabul on July 31, is still underway and is yet to be concluded. “The US is grossly violating Afghanistan’s sovereignty and the Doha agreement, ” he added, Express Tribune reported. Previously, the Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told the media that the war-ravaged country had registered its protest with the US government against using their drones in Afghanistan’s airspace.
The Al-Qaeda chief’s killing in a US drone strike indicates that the US has over the horizon capability to take out high-value targets and importantly without having any US footprints on the ground in Afghanistan. His killing has raised questions about how the CIA executed the operation. The CIA after the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces has no basis inside Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan, where the US operated after the 9/11 attacks. There were speculations that Pakistan might have played a role in taking out the al-Qaeda chief. However, a government source strongly rejected some rumors that the drone might have flown from Pakistan and that the US used the country’s airspace, Express Tribune reported.