PIA temporarily suspends Kabul flight operation over security concerns

PIA temporarily suspends Kabul flight operation over security concerns

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Saturday suspended its special flight operation to Afghanistan temporarily due to security concerns.

The federal government suspended the special flight operation that was launched to evacuate Pakistanis, foreign diplomats and officials of various international institutions, citing security concerns at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

“We have been flying from the Kabul airport by taking permission from the NATO troops deployed over there, but the issue is that the NATO forces won’t be there after a couple of days and it’s not clear what will happen then,” said a PIA spokesperson.

The PIA operated five special flights to Kabul since the fall of the city and evacuated some 1,600 people trapped over there. These individuals included several Pakistanis, foreign nationals associated with relief agencies, journalists and diplomats.

The PIA Chief Executive Officer Arshad Malik visited the Kabul airport on Friday to review the security situation and hold meetings with top NATO officials. He also discussed the situation with senior Pakistani government functionaries on Saturday in a meeting to decide the future of PIA operations to Afghanistan.

“We have halted our today’s operation, though a proper decision in this regard is expected later today after a high-level consultation with the government,” the PIA spokesperson said.

Listing the missing facilities at the Kabul airport that could lead to a mishap, he said that garbage was dumped on the terminal and officials handling stairs and air traffic were also missing from the facility. “There are serious security issues, and we can’t take any risk,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul is operating to facilitate people trying to flee Afghanistan, and it arranged movement of over 250 people to Kabul airport with security.

Pakistan Ambassador in Kabul Mansoor Ahmad Khan said in a Twitter post on Saturday these people included foreigners and Afghan nationals who were working for the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Pakistan’s Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain also applauded the performance of his country’s diplomatic mission in Kabul in a video message.

“Pakistan embassy in Kabul is playing a pivotal role in [the Afghan] evacuation process,” he said. “Until now, about 4,000 visas have been issued by our embassy and more than 2,000 people have been evacuated through PIA and other flights.”

Hussain said most of those evacuated were either diplomats, journalists or members of international financial groups like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund who got stuck in Afghanistan due to the rapidly changing political situation of that country.

He maintained that Pakistan was also striving for a peaceful and enduring political settlement in its neighbouring country by working with other members of the international community.

As countries across the globe try to pull out their citizens from the war-battered Afghanistan, Pakistan’s envoy in Kabul said the embassy is now sending a group of 57 Pakistanis, including women and children, by road to their country via Torkham.

The government started a special Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight operation to Kabul soon after the Taliban seized the Afghan capital on August 15 to help evacuate stranded people of various nationalities.

Officials in Pakistan say the Hamid Karzai airport has become the site of chaos in recent days where at least a dozen people have been killed and overrun to restore a modicum of calm and public order.

The post PIA temporarily suspends Kabul flight operation over security concerns appeared first on Pakistan Today.

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