“I respectfully call on [Uzbekistan and Tajikistan] not to test our patience & force us to take retaliatory steps [to retake aircraft],” Taliban’s Yaqoob said.
Taliban on Sunday asked Central Asian countries Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to return the aeroplanes and helicopters that were either handed to their government by the ousted Ashraf Ghani government or taken by the fleeing pilots before Kabul collapsed last August after the United States troops’ withdrawal. Addressing an Afghan air force ceremony, Taliban Defense Minister Mohammad Yaqoob asserted that the Taliban would not allow any of these countries to use Afghanistan’s aircraft that were seized or landed in the hands of the foreign government by people fleeing the war-torn nation, republicworld.com reports.
“I respectfully call on [Uzbekistan and Tajikistan] not to test our patience and not to force us to take all possible retaliatory steps [to retake the aircraft],” Yaqoob said, without giving out further details.
‘Kabul will take back all the helicopters’
Taliban appointed Defense Ministry’s spokesman of Afghanistan, Inayatullah Khwarazami, had earlier iterated that Kabul will take back all the helicopters in the near future from Central Asia nations as these helicopters “are the property of the Afghan people.” “They should be returned to the current government, to the Ministry of Defense,” Tolo News quoted him as saying. Weighing into the situation, Fahim Kohdamani, the former diplomat of Afghanistan in Tajikistan had told the Afghan press that in context to the helicopters that were taken out of the country during the Taliban siege, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed.
“First of all, I am not sure that the documentation of these helicopters is related to Afghanistan. The second issue is the issue of the Taliban government, which is not recognized by any country,” Kohdamani told Tolo News, casting doubts on the prospects of the return of the helicopters.
The United States Air Force had trained the elite Afghan air force pilots who later flew themselves and their families to safety in Uzbekistan. An estimated 40 aircraft or more including A-29 light attack planes and Black Hawk helicopters were flown out of the war-ravaged country just days ahead of the Taliban takeover on Aug 15 last year. The Afghan elite forces escaped Kabul in fear of reprisal from the Taliban for training with the US forces. Afghan pilots flew out nearly 25% of the country’s aviation equipment. 15 pilots flew A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, and roughly 11 pilots escaped on UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, MD-530, and Mi-17 helicopters to the neighbouring countries from the airports of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul.
Source : Asia Plus