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Tuesday August 16, 2022

Did govt allow US to use airspace for drone strike in Afghanistan? asks Fawad

Question is not if Pakistan's soil was used for drone attack, question is whether permission was granted for use, says Fawad

By Web Desk
August 06, 2022
Senior PTI leader and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry. — APP/ File
Senior PTI leader and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry. — APP/ File

ISLAMABAD: A day after the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) gave its clarification over the matter, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday asked if the government allowed the United States (US) to use its airspace for the drone strike that had killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in Afghanistan a few days back.

A day earlier, Director-General of ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar commented on rumours concerning the use of Pakistan’s air space in the drone strike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri and said that there was "no question on the use of the Pakistani soil in Zawahiri's killing.

However, today on his Twitter handle, Fawad Chaudhry wrote, "The question is not if Pakistan's soil was used for the Afghanistan drone attack, the question is whether permission was granted for Pakistan's airspace to be used.”

The United States killed Zawahiri with a missile fired from a drone while he stood on a balcony at his Kabul hideout on Sunday, US officials said, in the biggest blow to the militants since US Navy SEALS shot dead Osama bin Laden more than a decade ago.

But the senior PTI leader demanded relevant ministries issue a formal statement in response to his question as their current comments were "unclear".

Talking to Geo News a day earlier, the DG ISPR said, “The Foreign Ministry has issued a clear statement regarding Ayman Al-Zawahiri. It is impossible that Pakistan’s soil has been used for this,” adding that irrelevant comments are made without any evidence.

In his weekly press briefing in Islamabad, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad categorically rejected reports that Pakistan's airspace had been used for the United States drone strike.

"There is no evidence of this action having been undertaken using Pakistan’s airspace, so this is something that I can [say],” he told the press briefing.

The Taliban earlier this week said the government had no information about the al-Qaeda leader "entering and living" in the capital city Kabul and warned the US to never repeat an attack on Afghan soil.

"The government and the leadership weren’t aware of what is being claimed, nor any trace there," Suhail Shaheen, the designated Taliban representative to the United Nations, who is based in Doha, said in a statement.

"Investigation is underway now to find out about the veracity of the claim," he said, adding that the results of the investigation would be shared publicly.