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Pakistan airline suspends Afghan operations citing Taliban interference

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended flights to the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Thursday after what it referred to as “heavy handed” interference by Taliban authorities, together with arbitrary rule modifications and intimidation of workers.

The suspension got here because the Taliban authorities ordered the airline, the one worldwide firm working repeatedly out of Kabul, to chop ticket costs to ranges seen earlier than the autumn of the Western-backed Afghan authorities in August.

“We are suspending our flight operations to Kabul from today because of the heavy handedness of the authorities,” a spokesman mentioned.

Earlier, the Taliban warned PIA and Afghan service Kam Air that their Afghan operations risked being blocked except they agreed to chop ticket costs, which have reached ranges more and more out of attain for many Afghans.

With most worldwide airways not flying to Afghanistan, tickets for flights to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, have been promoting for as a lot as $2,500 on PIA, in keeping with journey brokers in Kabul, in contrast with $120-$150 earlier than.

The Afghan transport ministry mentioned in a press release costs on the route ought to “be adjusted to correspond with the conditions of a ticket before the victory of the Islamic Emirate” or the flights could be stopped.

It urged passengers and others to report any violations.

Flights between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been severely restricted since Kabul airport was reopened final month within the wake of the chaotic evacuation of greater than 100,000 Westerners and susceptible Afghans following the Taliban victory.

PIA mentioned that ever because the new Taliban authorities was shaped, its workers in Kabul had confronted last-minute modifications in laws and flight permissions and “highly intimidating behaviour” from Taliban commanders.

It mentioned its nation consultant had been held at gunpoint for hours at one level and was solely freed after the Pakistan embassy in Kabul intervened.

With a mounting financial disaster including to worries about Afghanistan’s future below the Taliban, there was heavy demand for flights out and the primary passport workplace in Kabul has been besieged by folks attempting to get journey paperwork because it reopened this month.

Demand for flights has been additional pushed by repeated difficulties at land border crossings into Pakistan.

Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan, Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Toby Chopra

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