Pakistani airline PIA reports that flights between Pakistan and the Afghan capital Kabul are suspended due to intimidating interference from the Taliban.
Just last Tuesday, dozens of Afghan interpreters who worked for the Netherlands were evacuated to Pakistan on a PIA flight. The Pakistanis are also counting on the cooperation of the Pakistanis for further evacuation flights. PIA’s decision seems to throw a wrench in the works. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs therefore qualifies the measure as a major setback.
“We are suspending our flights to Kabul from today due to the aggressive approach of the authorities,” a spokesperson for PIA told Reuters. The Taliban demand that the PIA reduce flight prices to pre-seizure levels by the extremists. These prices have increased twenty-fold since August. The new leaders threaten a no-fly zone if the PIA does not adjust prices.
In addition, the Taliban would change flight schedules as they saw fit and grant or deny planes permission to take off or land at the last minute. PIA personnel in the Afghan capital are reportedly regularly intimidated by Taliban commanders. The Pakistani airline is virtually the only one operating flights to Kabul.
Foreign Affairs said in a response: “We remain in close contact with PIA and Pakistani authorities to make possible flights from Kabul to Islamabad for people with the Netherlands as their final destination.”
In The Hague, it was decided this week that 2,100 Afghans could come to the Netherlands. It concerns people who have worked with the Netherlands or the Dutch in the past, and their immediate family. Their only option to leave the country by plane is by road via Pakistan. They cannot use the escape route through Qatar because that country keeps the border closed for Afghans who do not have Dutch parents.
The Foreign Ministry announced this afternoon that a group of 29 Afghans recently traveled overland from Afghanistan to Pakistan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against this route because of the great risks. The 29 left Pakistan for the Netherlands today.
Earlier today, it became clear again just how confronting Afghan interpreters are in their own country under the Taliban. According to his family, one of the interpreters of the Dutch evacuation list is shot yesterday by Taliban fighters.
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