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‘No equipment’ left behind during withdrawal from Afghanistan, insists US


People walk past the State Department building in Washington DC in this undated picture. — Reuters/File
  • US weapons were found from terrorists involved in PAF base attack. 
  • State Dept spokesperson offers condolences to family of victims.  
  • Calls on Pakistan to uphold obligations on refugees, asylum seekers.

WASHINGTON: Amid evidence indicating the use of US-made weapons by terrorists in Pakistan, the State Department on Tuesday said that “no equipment” was left behind by American forces during the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

“We are aware of the reports of multiple attacks on Pakistani security forces and facilities earlier in November and we offer our condolences to the families of the victims, but I want to be very clear about this: There was no equipment left behind by American forces during the withdrawal from Afghanistan,” US State Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said during a news briefing.

The spokesperson even though acknowledged that large-scale military grant assistance for Pakistan “remains suspended”, Washington has partnered with Islamabad for over 40 years to “support law enforcement, rule of law, counternarcotics efforts, and other areas in the security space, and will continue to value our bilateral relationship”.

The response came in response to a question during the briefing regarding the recovery of American-made weapons recovered from the terrorists that had attacked the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) Mianwali Training Air Base.

Last week, Pakistani security forces had eliminated nine militants in a clearance operation after a failed terrorist attack on the air base in a swift response by the troops, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) had said.

However, on Monday sources had told Geo News that the terrorists who attacked PAF had used American-made weapons.

The weapons recovered from the terrorists included RPG-7, AK-74, M-4 and M-16/A4, shared officials who spoke to the TV channel on condition of anonymity.

Islamabad has been consistently pointing out the use of US-made weapons by terrorists involved in attacks in the country.

In September of this year, the Foreign Office had expressed concerns over the “advanced weapons” being used by the terrorists in Afghanistan to attack Pakistan and its security agencies.

“These modern weapons have fallen into the hands of terrorists in Afghanistan who are using these [weapons] to attack Pakistan and its security agencies,” said FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch in a weekly briefing.

She said the situation needs international attention and called upon all stakeholders to assume the responsibility that they have in this regard.

US urges Pakistan to ‘uphold’ rights of Afghan refugees

To a question about the deportation of Afghan refugees and those Afghan citizens on the US Embassy list, Patel urged all states, including Pakistan, to “uphold their respective obligations in their treatment of refugees and asylum seekers and to respect the principle of non-refoulement”.

“We strongly encourage Afghanistan’s neighbours, including Pakistan, to allow entry for Afghans seeking international protection and to coordinate with the appropriate international humanitarian organisations,” said Patel.

The statement came despite the Pakistani government ordering authorities against arresting the Afghans awaiting resettlement in the United States, sparing them from deportation as it wages a crackdown on undocumented migrants living in Pakistan.

More than 180,000 people have returned to Afghanistan since Islamabad ordered 1.7 million Afghans it says are living illegally in Pakistan to leave or face deportation, border officials have said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has previously warned that Afghans awaiting resettlement to the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada after fleeing the Taliban government are at risk of deportation after their Pakistan visas expired.

Several Western nations are still in the process of resettling Afghan refugees two years on from the Taliban takeover, forcing many families to wait in limbo for months in Pakistan.



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