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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan refuted the allegations by Afghanistan vice president Amrullah Saleh that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) 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 PAF.”

Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri rejected the allegations, saying that the PAF never communicated anything to the Afghan Air Force.

“Such statements undermine Pakistan’s sincere efforts to play its part in an Afghan owned and Afghan led solution,” the spokesperson added.

He added that the Afghan side conveyed to Pakistan its intention of carrying out air operation inside its territory opposite Chaman Sector of Pakistan.

“Pakistan responded positively to Afghan government’s right to act in its territory. Inspite of 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,” he added.

“We acknowledge Afghan government’s right to undertake actions on its sovereign territory. However, as alleged by the Afghan vice president, Pakistan Air Force never communicated anything to the Afghan Air Force,” he said.

Chaudhri said Pakistan lately rescued 40 ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces] all ranks, who fled to Pakistan and returned them to the Afghan government with respect and dignity, with a declared offer to ANDSF to provide all logistical support as requested.

“We remain committed to peace in Afghanistan and shall continue to endeavour towards this end irrespective of the detractors,” the spokesperson added.

He emphasised that it is important that at this critical juncture, all energies are focused on achieving an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan.

Earlier in the day, the Afghan vice president through a series of tweets alleged that “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. Pak Air Force is now providing close air support to Taliban in certain areas.”

“If anyone doubts my tweet on Pak Air Force and Pak Army warning to d Afg[the Afghan] side not to retake Spin Boldak I am ready to share evidence through DM [Direct Message]. Afghan aircrafts as far as 10 kilometers from Spin Boldak are warned to back off or face air to air missiles. Afg[Afghanistan] is too big to be swallowed,” Saleh claimed in another tweet.

In another tweet, Saleh stated: “On Pakistani denial: For over twenty 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…I shared the evidence to relevant outlets.” The latest allegations by the top Afghan leader come following Afghan forces launched offensive to retake the strategic Spin Boldak-Chaman border crossing following Taliban took control of the border crossing along Pakistan-Afghan border on July 14.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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