Expressing condolences on the recent wave of terror attacks in Pakistan, including the Mianwali air base assault, the US State Department has affirmed that “no equipment was left behind by American forces during the Afghanistan withdrawal” that could be utilised by terrorists to target Pakistan.
The US State Department’s principal deputy spokesperson, Vedant Patel, made this statement during a press briefing on Tuesday, in response to a query regarding reports that Pakistani security forces had allegedly recovered US-made weapons from terrorists after the recent airbase attack.
Nine terrorists were killed in a clearance operation after terrorists infiltrated the Mianwali Training Air Base of the Pakistan Air Force in the early hours of Saturday.
According to reports, terrorists scaled the eight-foot high boundary wall of the PAF base after cutting the barbed wire and attacked some grounded aircraft besides damaging an oil bowser.
The Inter-Services Public Relations had said the attack on the air base had been foiled, with three terrorists “neutralised” and three others “cornered/isolated”.
In a later update, ISPR had said that no damage had been done to any of the PAF’s functional operational assets, while only some damage was done to three already phased-out non-operational aircraft during the attack.
The Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), a newly emerged militant group that is an affiliate of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), had later claimed responsibility in a statement to media.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, the US official was asked to comment on the US counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan and the reports of American weapons allegedly used in the Mianwali air base attack.
Patel responded: “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.”
He also underlined that the “large-scale military grant assistance remains suspended”.
“We have partnered with Pakistan for more than 40 years to support law enforcement, rule of law, counter-narcotics efforts, and other areas in the security space, and will continue to value our bilateral relationship,” the official added.
Pakistan has witnessed an uptick in terror activities in recent months, especially in KP and Balochistan, after the TTP ended its ceasefire with the government in November last year.
On November 3, the day preceding the attack on Mianwali air base, at least 14 Pakistan Army soldiers lost their lives in a militant ambush targeting two security force vehicles in Gwadar.
On Oct 31, a policeman was martyred after unknown militants opened fire on a police camp in Dera Ismail Khan. That same day, two soldiers were martyred in an IED blast in South Waziristan district.
In July, as many as 12 soldiers of the Pakistan Army embraced martyrdom in separate military operations in the Zhob and Sui areas of Balochistan.
Data compiled by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) in September said the number of militant attacks in August was the highest tally for monthly strikes in almost nine years.