Pakistan rejects accusations by Kabul that it is providing the Taliban with ‘close air support’

Islamabad has rejected accusations levelled by a senior Afghan government official that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has been “providing close air support to the Taliban in certain areas” after the group captured a key border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh tweeted on 15 July that the PAF had issued “an official warning” to both the Afghan army and air force that “any move to dislodge the Taliban” from the Spin Boldak-Chaman crossing would be “faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force”, adding that Afghan aircraft as far as 10 km from Spin Boldak were warned to “back off or face air-to-air missiles”.

Afghan media outlet TOLOnews reported that this happened as three Afghan Air Force (AAF) A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft were about to strike targets near the border area, adding that the AAF mission was aborted as a result of the warning. The southern border crossing is one of several captured by the Taliban in recent weeks, including in northern and western Afghanistan.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in Islamabad rejected the accusations in a statement issued the following day. “We acknowledge [the] Afghan government’s right to undertake actions on its sovereign territory. However, … [the] Pakistan Air Force never communicated anything to the AAF [as alleged by the Afghan vice president]. Such statements undermine Pakistan’s sincere efforts to play its part in an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led solution, said the MoFA.

19 JULY 2021

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