KABUL: The Afghan government has shot down claims that authorities deliberately prevented an aircraft carrying a Pakistani parliamentary delegation from landing in Kabul.
Pakistan National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on April 8 left for the Afghan capital with a nine-member delegation on the invitation of the chairman of Afghanistan’s lower house, Mir Rahman Rahmani, with a view to holding wide-ranging discussions, including on Afghan peace and cross-border trade.
However, his plane was turned back as it was about to descend to Kabul airport, over what was reported to be a security threat.
Tariq Aryan, a spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry, said on Wednesday that at least four other flights were also prevented from landing at the airport that day as officials had to shut the facility to disarm an “an old explosive.”
He told Arab News: “The airport was shut because an explosive was found. There was no other thing.”
The incident led to outrage among Afghan members of parliament, who summoned the chiefs of the country’s security establishment, including the interior minister, for a briefing on the matter.
Sadiq Ahmad Osmani, a lawmaker from Parwan province, told Arab News: “Their reasoning and explanations were not compelling to the lawmakers because they (Pakistani lawmakers) could have been informed about this (security threat) way ahead of the departure of his (Qaiser’s) flight.
“We had full preparations, high protocol for his trip here, but unfortunately the news of the security threat there totally damaged our national hospitality. There are some at the top who had created the problem. It was an improper move,” he said.
Allah Gul Mujahid, a lawmaker from Kabul, said no trips by visiting officials had been canceled in the past 20 years over minor security threats.
Herat lawmaker, Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, openly blamed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for the cancellation of Qaiser’s visit. Ghani’s office was unavailable for comment.
“He (Ghani) wants to damage further relations between the two countries,” Hanafi said, adding that the visit could have opened a new chapter in Pakistani-Afghan relations.