ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary delegation headed by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser which had departed for Afghanistan on a three-day official visit on Thursday morning returned home within minutes after the Afghan authorities did not allow landing of their plane at Kabul airport due to “security reasons”.
A spokesperson for the speaker told Dawn that Mr Qaiser along with a nine-member delegation had departed for Kabul from the Islamabad International Airport as per schedule but when their aircraft was still in the air, the delegation members were informed that Kabul airport had been closed due to some “security reasons”.
The delegation was going to Afghanistan on the invitation of Speaker of Afghan Wolesi Jirga Mir Rehman Rehmani.
Later, Mr Qaiser received separate telephone calls from his Afghan counterpart as well as chairman of Afghanistan’s Senate Fazal Hadi, according to an official handout issued by the National Assembly Secretariat.
During their telephone conversation, the two Afghan leaders said the Pakistani plane was not allowed to land at Kabul airport due to security concerns, adding that the security of the Pakistani delegation was above every other business. They expressed the hope that the Pakistani delegation would soon visit Afghanistan.
The two Afghan leaders also said that Pak-Afghan relations were stronger than ever and they appreciated the active role of the National Assembly speaker in this regard.
Mr Qaiser vowed to visit Afghanistan as soon as the security situation improved. He also remarked that Pakistan would continue to play its role for peace in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, there was no official word on the nature of the threat. Several National Assembly Secretariat officials, when contacted, said they were not aware whether it was a general security threat or a threat specific to the Pakistani delegation.
According to sources at the Islamabad airport, the Pakistani delegation was travelling to Kabul aboard a scheduled PIA flight, PK-249. The flight, they said, took off from the airport at 1040 hours and came back at 1050 hours.
It was to be the first official visit of the speaker to Afghanistan on the special invitation of his Afghan counterpart. The members of the delegation were MNAs Ghulam Mustafa Shah of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Rana Tanveer of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Sajid Khan, Gul Dad Khan, Yaqoob Sheikh of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Shandana Gulzar and Special Representative for Afghanistan Sadiq Khan.
The purpose of the aborted visit was to enhance trade between the two countries and to explore opportunities for peace in Afghanistan to ensure regional prosperity.
Mr Qaiser has constituted an Executive Committee of Pak-Afghan Parliamentary Friendship Group which has been playing an effective role in highlighting issues of traders on the Pak-Afghan border.
Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2021