Pakistan expresses hope for peaceful Afghan elections

Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke to his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani over the phone on Friday. (Photo courtesy: Foreign Office)
Updated 20 October 2018

Pakistan expresses hope for peaceful Afghan elections

  • Qureshi reassured Pakistan’s complete support for the Afghan democratic process
  • Afghanistan is holding election for the lower house of parliament, on Saturday

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said he hopes parliamentary elections will be held in a peaceful environment throughout Afghanistan.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke to his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani over the phone on Friday.
Pakistan’s foreign minister told Rabbani “these elections are an important landmark for the strengthening of democracy in the country, which remains the key to achieving sustainable peace and progress in Afghanistan,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on Friday evening.
Qureshi also reassured Rabbani about Pakistan’s complete support for the Afghan democratic process.
Afghanistan is holding an election for the lower house of parliament, known as the Wolesi Jirga under tight security.
“Thanking the Foreign Minister for his support, FM Rabbani briefed Mr. Qureshi about the difficulties being faced by the Afghan government in holding the upcoming elections in Afghanistan in a successful manner,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office statement said, quoting Rabbani.
The statement added: “Mr. Rabbani also expressed the hope that both countries would continue to work together in pursuing peace and an end to the decades-old conflict in Afghanistan.”
Early on Friday Pakistan, on the request of the Kabul government, closed the gates along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border for two days.
The decision to shut down the crossings along the Chaman and Torkham border was taken to help Kabul conduct its parliamentary elections seamlessly.


EU safety agency suspends Pakistani airlines’ European authorization

Updated 01 July 2020

EU safety agency suspends Pakistani airlines’ European authorization

  • The step has been taken due to concerns about the country’s ability to ensure compliance with international aviation standards
  • PIA expects the ‘earliest possible’ lifting of suspension after action by the government and the airline

ISLAMABAD: The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) authorization to fly to the bloc for six months, the airline said on Tuesday, in a major blow to the country’s flag carrier.
Separately, the safety agency said it took the action due to concerns about the country’s ability to ensure compliance with international aviation standards at all times.
The suspension follows Pakistan’s grounding of 262 of the country’s 860 pilots — including 141 of PIA’s 434 — whose licenses the aviation minister termed “dubious.”
“EASA has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorization to operate to the EU member states for a period of six months effective July 1, 2020 with the right to appeal,” PIA said in a statement. It added it would temporarily discontinue all its flights to Europe.
Confirming the move in an emailed statement, the EASA referred to a recent investigation by Pakistan which it said showed a “large share” of pilot licenses to be invalid.
Pakistan’s grounding of the pilots followed a preliminary report on a PIA crash in Karachi that killed 97 people last month.
PIA said it is in contact with the EASA to take corrective measures and appeal against the decision, adding that it expected the “earliest possible” lifting of the suspension after action by the government and the airline.
The EASA also suspended the authorization of another Pakistani airline, Vision Air International.
Vision Air International did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Following the EASA’s decision, the UK Civil Aviation Authority said it, too, was withdrawing PIA’s permit to operate from three of its airports, as required under law.
“PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports are suspended with immediate effect,” a spokesman for the UK authority told Reuters.
The three were major flying destinations for the airline.
Meanwhile, Pakistani pilots and their union, the Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA), say there are discrepancies in the government’s list of pilots with licenses deemed dubious and are demanding a judicial investigation.
PIA and private airline Air Blue have also queried the list with PIA saying 36 of its pilots mentioned had either retired or left the airline, while Air Blue said it no longer employed seven of nine pilots on the list.
“It contains names of highly educated and qualified pilots who have passed all the tests,” PALPA’s president, Chaudhry Salman, told Reuters. “We want a fair and impartial resolution to this matter.”
An official at Pakistan’s aviation ministry, Abdul Sattar Khokhar, said they did not have full details of the discrepancies. “The issue is being sorted out in consultation with airlines and civil aviation authorities.”