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Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspends Afghan operations citing Taliban interference

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Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended flights to Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Thursday

Islamabad:

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended flights to Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Thursday in what it called “heavy-handed” interference by Taliban officials, including arbitrary rule changes and intimidation of employees.

The suspension came after the Taliban government ordered the airline, the only international company operating regularly from Kabul, to cut ticket prices to levels seen before the collapse of the Western-backed Afghan government in August.

“Due to the strictness of the authorities, we are suspending our flight operations to Kabul from today,” a spokesman said.

Earlier, the Taliban had warned the PIA and Afghan carrier Kam Air that they risked blocking their Afghan operations unless they agreed to cut ticket prices, which most Afghans face. has reached a level out of reach.

Most international airlines no longer fly to Afghanistan, according to travel agents in Kabul, with flights to the Pakistani capital Islamabad selling for up to $2,500 on PIA, compared to $120-$150 previously.

The Afghan transport ministry said in a statement that prices on the route “must be adjusted to suit the ticket conditions prior to the Islamic Emirate’s victory” or flights will be halted.

It urged passengers and others to report any violations.

Flights between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been severely limited since the reopening of Kabul airport last month in the wake of the chaotic evacuation of more than 100,000 Western and vulnerable Afghans following a Taliban victory.

The PIA said that since the new Taliban government was formed, its employees in Kabul have faced last-minute changes in rules and flight permissions and “extremely intimidating behavior” from Taliban commanders.

It said that his country’s representative was held at gunpoint for hours at one point and was freed only after the intervention of the Pakistan embassy in Kabul.

With a growing economic crisis fueling concerns about the future of Afghanistan under the Taliban, there has been a huge demand for flights and people trying to obtain travel documents since the main passport office in Kabul reopened this month. surrounded by people.

The demand for flights has been further fueled by repeated difficulties at land border crossings in Pakistan.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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