21:25 GMT26 July 2021
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    On Thursday, Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh claimed the Pakistan air force had threatened the Afghan Army and Air Force with air strikes if the latter took any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak - a crucial border point which the Taliban had captured on Wednesday.

    Pakistan has categorically rejected the charges made by Afghanistan about providing assistance to the Taliban during the ongoing clashes between the insurgent group and Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.

    "We want peace in the neighbouring country as a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan and other countries...Pakistan is not supporting any faction in Afghanistan," Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed said on Friday.

    His statement comes after Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani levelled allegations against Pakistan, saying that over 10,000 Taliban fighters had crossed over into Afghanistan from the southern neighbour.

    “Pakistan needs to engage constructively in the peace process for the region. Our government is committed to peace, but our forces are prepared to fight to protect our people. The price of Liberty is oftentimes the blood of Patriots,” Ghani said at the Tashkent conference on Friday.

    Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed disappointment over the “unfounded allegations” made by Ashraf Ghani and said on Friday that his government has played an important role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

    “Even today, Pakistan will be affected the most from any unrest in the neighbouring country,” Khan said.

    Earlier on Thursday, an operation by three A29 aircraft from the Afghan Air Force on Taliban targets in Spin Boldak was aborted after “receiving warning” from Pakistan’s forces. The Taliban had captured the Spin Boldak area in Kandahar Province on Wednesday.

    'Pakistan's Open Support to Taliban'

    On Thursday, ​First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said: “Pakistan air force has issued an official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force.”

    He said that “Pakistan's air force is now providing close air support to the Taliban in certain areas.”

    Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while rejecting the allegation, said that Islamabad takes "necessary measures within its territory to safeguard our own troops and population".

    “The Afghan side conveyed to Pakistan its intention of carrying out air operations inside its territory opposite the Chaman Sector of Pakistan. Pakistan responded positively to the Afghan Government’s right to act in its territory,” the ministry said.

    Intra-Afghan Conference Postponed

    This recent war of words between the two Asian countries erupted even as Imran Khan invited 30 Afghan leaders, including President Ghani, to an international conference in Islamabad to bring peace to the war-torn country. On Friday, Pakistan postponed the three-day conference which was to happen in Islamabad over the weekend after being asked to do so by Ashraf Ghani.

    Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, says the Afghan delegation who will meet the Taliban in Doha this weekend is an inclusive team and represents the entire Afghanistan.

    "There is still a chance for peace despite the ongoing heavy fighting between government forces and the Taliban in various parts of the country," Abdullah added.

    *The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia


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