Pakistan’s airspace not used by to kill al-Qaeda chief: FO

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday categorically rejected reports that Pakistan’s airspace had been used by a US drone strike in Kabul killing al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

“I would refer you to the statement that we have issued (earlier) on this incident, and that is our stated position. There is no evidence of this action having been undertaken using Pakistan’s airspace, so this is something that I can add to that,” said the spokesman at the Foreign Office during the weekly media briefing.

In its earlier statement on August 2, the spokesman issued a vague statement on the US drone strike, saying that Pakistan stands by countering terrorism in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions. There was no mention of Ayman al-Zahawiri and he had made no mention of Pakistan’s airspace not being used.

The first rejection of Pakistan’s airspace having been used came from the Minister of Interior, Rana Sanullah, on Wednesday. “As I said, our statement contains what we had to say. Our (earlier) statement needs to be mentioned in its totality. We said that Pakistan stands by countering terrorism in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions. So that’s a very clear statement”, he added.

While referring to various UN resolutions on countering terrorism, he pointed out that there are various international obligations under these resolutions. “Regarding al-Qaeda, I think it is clear that it is a terrorist entity, which is listed under the UN Security Council sanctions regime and states are under obligation to take actions that are prescribed by the UN Security Council. As you know, Pakistan has in the past, taken resolute actions and supported the efforts of the international community in fighting terrorism and particularly, you know, some of the notable success against al-Qaeda was possible because of Pakistan’s role and contribution,” he said.

While commenting on August 5, the spokesman said this was the third anniversary of India’s illegal and unilateral actions in 2019 and subsequent steps that were designed to undermine the internationally recognised disputed status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and to alter the demographic structure of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) -- all in violation of international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

To mark the occasion, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood will be participating in a Solidarity Walk from the Foreign Office to Parliament. “Not only has India reneged on its obligations and the solemn commitments of its leadership to abide by the UNSC resolutions and let the Kashmiri people exercise their right to self-determination, it has let loose a reign of terror and suppression, gross and widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in an attempt to perpetuate its illegal and forcible occupation of IIOJ&K,” said the spokesman.

The August 5 action now sees inhuman siege, curfews, physical lockdowns and communication blackouts, enforced by over 900,000 Indian occupation forces, in what is considered the densest military occupation anywhere in recent history. “Since August 2019, at least 660 Kashmiris have been martyred by Indian occupation forces in IIOJ&K. In parallel, there is a series of arbitrary legal and administrative steps including land confiscation, influx of non-Kashmiris, creation of alien settlements, and issuance of millions of illegal domicile certificates – all aimed at demographic engineering in order to turn the Kashmiri Muslim majority into a minority in their own land,” he pointed out.

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