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Taliban jabs Pakistan over US drones: ‘don’t use your airspace against us’

Afghan Taliban’s Acting Minister of Defence Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob speaks during a ceremony marking the 9th anniversary of the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the late leader and founder of the Taliban, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

The Taliban’s acting defense minister on Sunday accused Pakistan of allowing U.S. drones to enter and attack Afghanistan through Pakistan’s airspace. 

“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,” the Taliban’s Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob told reporters at a Kabul news conference, per translations.

A U.S. drone strike in Kabul last month killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, a former deputy to Osama bin Laden and a key planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied Yaqoob’s claims in a statement, noting “deep concern” about the “conjectural allegations.” 

“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 statement reads. 

Pakistan’s foreign ministry also urged Afghanistan “not to allow the use of its territory for terrorism against any country.” 

The Biden administration has touted the strike on al-Zawahiri as a long-coming deliverance of justice.

“If you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out,” Biden said in a televised address announcing the strike earlier this month.

Al-Zawahiri assumed leadership of the terrorist group al Qaeda after bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces as part of a secret raid in a compound in Pakistan.

Pakistan has reportedly denied involvement in the strike on al-Zawahiri, and its foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told Reuters Sunday that the country’s airspace had not been used. 

The Hill has reached out to the Embassy of Pakistan and the CIA for comment.

Tags Afghanistan airspace Ayman al-Zawahiri Ayman al-Zawahiri Pakistan strike Taliban

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