CHITRAL: The Pakistan International Airlines has suspended flights on the Peshawar-Chitral route over losses.

Two PIA flights were operated in a week, one on Fridays and the other on Sundays.

An insider told Dawn that the flights could be restored in the summer season due to increase in the number of passengers, especially foreigners.

He said the PIA began a daily flight to Chitral in late 1960s and increased the number to three in 1980s, while a special C-130 flight was operated for the region on the need basis in the winter season.

Local businessman and frequent FIA passenger Fakhre Alam said irrational flight days, timings and fares were to blame for low passenger flow on the route.

He said the afternoon time selected for flight operations was quite inappropriate when cloudy conditions rendering the weather unfit for flights.

Mr Alam said the rate of the cancellation of flights for Chitral was low until 2009 when morning was the flight time.

He said hardly any person planned to avail himself of the flight to and from Peshawar or Islamabad due to unsuitable flight days and timings, which caused cancellation.

The businessman also complained that the fares were exorbitant.

He feared that the suspension of Peshawar-Chitral flights was the beginning of the process to shut the Chitral route.

FESTIVAL ENDS: The two-day festival of Pathak Dik observed by the Ismaili sect of Muslims concluded in Garam Chashma of Lot Koh valley here on Saturday.

The people decorated and whitened houses with wheat flour during the festival.

A special ceremony was held at the tomb of Sufi saint Pir Nasir Shah Khusro, who had come to the region from Central Asia in 18th century for preaching Islam.

Anwar Baig of Garam Chashma said the festival marked the day when the saint ended 40-day prayer in isolation. He said the festival was meant to pay homage to the saint and urge people to cleanse their inner selves from sins.

The resident said the lavish distribution of cheese breads and desi ghee at the tomb and dispatch of special gifts by the people to their marrieddaughters reminded the magnanimity of the saint.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2019

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