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Wednesday December 08, 2021

Taliban ask ex-Afghan military pilots to stay, serve nation

By Agencies
November 11, 2021
Taliban ask ex-Afghan military pilots to stay, serve nation

ISLAMABAD: A top Taliban official on Wednesday asked former Afghan military pilots to remain in the country, saying they were protected by a national amnesty and would not face arrest, the foreign media reported.

The comments by chief government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid came amid reports that more than 140 US-trained Afghan pilots and crew members left Tajikistan in a US-brokered evacuation Tuesday, three months after they sought refuge there from a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Afghan air force pilots played a key role, alongside their US counterparts, in the 20-year war against the Taliban insurgents that ended with the departure of foreign troops in late August. The airstrikes inflicted heavy casualties among the Taliban and repeatedly drove them from positions they had seized in different parts of the country.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Mujahid was asked about the most recent evacuation of pilots and crew members who, according to The New York Times, were flown to the United Arab Emirates.

The military personnel had reportedly been in detention during their stay in Tajikistan. Mujahid said Afghanistan needs pilots and that all is forgiven.

“My message is, there is no security problem for them (Afghan pilots) in Afghanistan, there is no plan of arresting them, national amnesty is announced,” he said. He said the pilots, whether in the military or in civil aviation, “can be at the service of their country.” “It is regrettable that a number of pilots have gone, or they are going,” he added.

Separately, a spokesman for the Taliban intelligence service told the news conference that the agency has arrested close to 600 members of the militant Islamic State group in connection with violent attacks over the past three months.

The spokesman, Khalil Hamraz, said that among the detainees are key IS figures, including financial supporters.