In statement, Foreign Office says the PAF ‘never communicated anything’ to the Afghan Air Force
Pakistan on Friday rejected allegations of Afghanistan Vice President Amrullah Saleh that the Pakistan Air Force is providing “air support” to the Afghan Taliban.
On Thursday evening, in a posting on Twitter, Saleh had alleged that the Pakistan Air Force had issued an “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.” Claiming this proved that the PAF was providing air support to the insurgents in “certain areas,” he said he was willing to share evidence of his allegations. “Afghan aircrafts as far as 10km from Spin Boldak are warned to back off or face air-to-air missiles,” he added.
In its statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Office stressed that the Pakistan Air Force had “never communicated anything to the Afghan Air Force.” Explaining the situation, it said that the Afghan side had conveyed to Pakistan an intent to conduct air operations inside its own territory opposite the Chaman border crossing. “Pakistan responded positively to the Afghan government’s right to act in its territory … [despite] very close border operations normally not acceded to by internationally accepted norms/standards/procedures, Pakistan took necessary measures within its territory to safeguard our own troops and population,” it said.
Noting that Pakistan respected Kabul’s right to take action within its own sovereign territory, it said that statements like those of Saleh’s “undermine Pakistan’s sincere efforts to play its part in an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led solution.”
The Foreign Office recalled that Pakistan had, recently, rescued 40 members of the Afghan Army who had fled into its territory and returned them to Afghanistan with respect and dignity. Islamabad had also offered to provide logistical support to the Afghan forces “as requested,” it said. “We remain committed to peace in Afghanistan and shall continue to endeavor toward this end irrespective of the detractors,” it stressed.
“It is, however, important that at this critical juncture, all energies are focused on achieving an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan,” the Foreign Office concluded.
Despite the denials, Saleh remains committed to his allegations. “For over 20 years Pakistan denied the existence of Quetta shura or presence of Taliban terrorist leaders in its soil. Those familiar with this pattern, Afghan or foreign, know exactly that issuing a statement of denial is just a pre-written paragraph,” he claimed in a posting on Twitter.