Pakistan Airlines suspends flights to Kabul, cites Taliban’s ‘heavy handed’ interference

Pakistan Airlines suspends flights to Kabul, cites Taliban’s ‘heavy handed’ interference

Pakistan International Airlines on Thursday suspended flights to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, citing “heavy handed” interference by Taliban authorities, including arbitrary rule changes for flight carriers and intimidation of staff, Reuters reported.

The Taliban also warned Pakistan International Airlines and Afghan air carrier Kam Air to reduce the fare of flight tickets.

The Afghan transport ministry said that the route should “be adjusted to correspond with the conditions of a ticket before the victory of the Islamic Emirate” or the flights would be stopped.

The Pakistan International Airlines had been selling a ticket to Kabul from Islamabad for Rs 1.88 lakh. Earlier, the ticket was priced between Rs 9,000 and Rs 11,500.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15 in a lightning offensive as the United States and its allies pulled out its troops after a 20-year-war. The insurgent group’s return to power triggered turmoil in the country, with thousands making desperate attempts to leave the country from Kabul airport.

The Pakistan International Airlines was the only air carrier that had been operating flights to Kabul regularly after August 31, when the Western countries left Afghanistan.

A spokesperson of Pakistan International Airlines said their flights had been flying in and out of Kabul “under difficult circumstances” prior to the suspension on Thursday, the Dawn reported.

“The PIA [Pakistan International Airlines] evacuated around 3,000 people after the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan,” said Abdullah Khan. He added that officials of the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were flown out of Kabul by Pakistan.

Meanwhile on September 7, the Taliban had written to India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation seeking resumption of commercial flights between India and Afghanistan.

India last operated an Indian Air Force flight on August 21 to evacuate stranded citizens in Afghanistan. Only a limited number of passenger flights are currently operating from the Kabul airport.

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