US drones using Pakistani airspace for strikes against Afghanistan, claims key Taliban Commander
KABUL – Weeks after Pakistan denied the United States used its airspace to carry out a drone strike inside Afghanistan, the Taliban’s acting defence minister said Pakistan had allowed American drones to use its airspace to access Afghanistan.
Addressing a news conference in Kabul on Sunday, acting Minister of Defence Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob told reporters that American drones had been entering Afghanistan via Pakistan.
“According to our information, the drones are entering Afghanistan through Pakistan. They use Pakistan’s airspace. We ask Pakistan don’t allow use of your airspace against us,” he said.
Pakistan has yet to comment on this latest statement. Earlier, Pakistani authorities denied involvement in or advanced knowledge of a drone strike the United States said carried out in Kabul in July. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri was eliminated in this drone strike.
Yaqoob’s comments could exacerbate tension between the neighbouring nations at a time when the Afghan Taliban is mediating talks between Pakistan and a Pakistani Taliban militant group called the TTP.
Afghanistan also relies heavily on trade with Pakistan as the country experiences an economic crisis.
The Taliban said it is investigating the July air strike and that it has not found the Al-Qaeda leader’s body.