Pakistans airline PIA reports that flights between Pakistan and the Afghan capital Kabul are being suspended due to the intimidating interference of the Taliban.
Last Tuesday, dozens of Afghan interpreters who worked for the Netherlands on a PIA flight were evacuated to Pakistan. Also for new evacuation flights, the Pakistanis will also be based on cooperation from Pakistanis. PIAs decision seems to throw spanner in the food. Foreign Affairs calls the measure a big setback.
“We are suspending our flights to Kabul by today due to the aggressive approach taken by the authorities,” a PIA spokesman tells Reuters. The Taliban demand that the PIA bring flight prices back to the pre-extremists seizure level. Those prices have increased twenty-fold since August. The new powers threaten a flight ban if the PIA does not adjust prices.
Furthermore, the Taliban would change flight schedules at will and may or may not authorise aircraft take-off or landing at the last minute. The staff of PIA in the Afghan capital would be regularly intimidated by Taliban commanders. Pakistani society is pretty much the only one operating flights to Kabul.
Foreign Affairs says in a response: “We remain in close contact with PIA and the Pakistani authorities to enable flights from Kabul to Islamabad for people with the Netherlands as their final destination”.
In The Hague this week it was just decided that 2100 Afghans are allowed to come to the Netherlands. It concerns people who have worked with the Netherlands or Dutch in the past, and their immediate family. Their only option to leave the country by plane is the route via Pakistan. They cannot use the evacuation route through Qatar because that country keeps the border for Afghans who do not have Dutch family members.
The State Department announced this afternoon that a group of 29 Afghans recently traveled overland from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Foreign Affairs does not recommend that itinerary because of the major risks. The 29 departed from Pakistan today to the Netherlands.
Earlier today it became clear how much danger Afghan interpreters are in their own country under the Taliban regime. According to his family, one of the interpreters on the Dutch evacuation list was shot to death by Taliban fighters yesterday.