Remarks on IS link with Pakistan ‘a slip of tongue’: Russia

Muhammad Zamir Assadi

MOSCOW Feb 1 (INP) :Russia on Thursday strongly rebutted reported remarks by Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Igor Zubov regarding alleged movement of Islamic State (IS) terrorists by helicopters from Pakistan to Tajikistan border, and termed it a ‘slip of the tongue’.

“Yes, we saw the statement … and it is just a slip of the tongue,” Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Maria Zhakharova told a weekly press briefing when asked by a Russian reporter to explain the reported comments of the minister. “Because, the ISIL/ISIS terrorists are being carried to the borderline between Afghanistan and Tajikistan from the Afghan territory,” she explained.

“We are cooperating closely with Pakistan on fighting terrorism as well as the Afghan agenda. We share common concerns on the IS gaining momentum and the terrorist group’s expansion,” the spokesperson said in her reply. “When it comes to terrorist issues, we are monitoring very closely the existing risks … and so on … in order to ensure safety and security of the people and in order to prevent any attempts to destabilize the situation in the post-Soviet territory,” she continued. “Great contribution is being made by the countries bordering Afghanistan … and Russia is a reliable partner of those countries in every effort to ensure security of the borders,” she added.

To a question by Pakistani journalist Ishtiaq Hamdani as to who was responsible for helicopters other than NATO’s flying over the Afghan airspace, the spokesperson replied, “Who’s deployed in Afghanistan? Who for many years has been carrying out military operations in accordance with the UN mandate … and at the same time they do not report to the UN Security Council? Those people are responsible.” “There are certain movements taking place and we talked about those … and we understand that there is a link to the militants,” she continued. “And, nobody is asking what these helicopters are for,” she further said. “But this is not a question to be posed to Russia … but to those who are present there,” she concluded.