Pakistan airline suspends Kabul flights over ‘unprofessional Taliban attitude’

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Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended flights to Kabul over the “unprofessional attitude” of Taliban authorities.

“Our flights frequently faced undue delays because of the unprofessional attitude of the Kabul aviation authorities,” Abdullah Hafeez Khan, the PIA spokesman told AFP.

The route will remain suspended until “the situation becomes conducive,” he added.

In a separate statement, the spokesperson emphasised the fact that the PIA had kept flying in and out of Kabul under “difficult circumstances” when others had ceased their operations.

He was referring to the part the PIA played in the mass evacuations following the Taliban’s swift take over of Kabul in August, which created a rush among those stuck in the Afghan capital to get out amid a dearth of flights.

“The PIA evacuated around 3,000 people after the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan,” said the PIA spokesperson, adding that among the people flown out of Kabul were officials of the United Nations, World Bank, the IMF, other global organisations as well as international journalists.

The spokesperson said that the PIA’s captains and staff endangered their lives but still kept the evacuation process going.

But the airline said the flight operation was “not very lucrative financially” and it was only operating flights on “humanitarian grounds”.

“We would pay more than $400,000 as insurance premium which could only be possible if 300 passengers are available,” Khan said.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said that his government will investigate reports regarding the alleged mistreatment of PIA officials and passengers by authorities at Kabul international airport.

“We will investigate reports of maltreatment and will rectify it. All companies and businesses are very important for us. We adopt a positive approach [towards] Pakistani businesses,” Mujahid, who is also the Taliban government’s deputy information minister, told Dawn.com in an audio message.

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