Pak Airlines suspended flights to Afghanistan amid Taliban interference

Pak Airlines suspended flights to Afghanistan amid Taliban interference

A Pakistan International Airlines PIA passenger plane prepares to take off from the Benazir International Airport in Islamabad, Pakistan. REUTERS Faisal Mahmood is being used by a group of religious people like Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD, Oct 14 Reuters - Pakistan International Airlines PIA suspended flights to the Afghan capital of Kabul on Thursday after what it called heavy handed interference by Taliban authorities, including arbitrary rule changes and intimidation of staff.

The suspension came as the Taliban government ordered the airline, a regular operator operating out of Kabul, to reduce ticket prices to levels seen before the fall of the Western-backed Afghan government in August.

We are lifting our flight operations from today on Kabul because of heavy handedness of the authorities, a spokesman said.

Earlier the Taliban warned PIA and Afghan carrier Kam Air that their Afghan operations risked being blocked unless they agreed to cut ticket prices, which have reached levels increasingly out of reach for most Afghans.

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The Islamic transport ministry said in a statement that prices on the route should be adjusted to correspond with the conditions of a ticket before the victory of the Afghan Emirate or the flights would be stopped.

It urged passengers and others to report any violations.

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

PIA said that since the new Taliban government was formed, its staff in Kabul had faced violent changes in regulations and flight permissions and unusual behaviour from Taliban commanders.

It said its country representative had been held at gunpoint at one point for hours and was only freed after the Pakistan embassy in Kabul intervened.

With a mounting economic crisis adding to worries about Afghanistan's future under the Taliban, there has been heavy demand for flights out and main passport office in Kabul has been besieged by people trying to get travel documents since it reopened this month.

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