PESHAWAR, Jan 16: The British era airfield in South Waziristan’s Wana town has been upgraded under a US-funded multi-million dollar programme which also envisages extension of runway and other facilities at the airport in Miramshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan Agency.

Officials said that a military C-130 aircraft made a successful test landing at the expanded 1,500-meter strip of Wana airport on Dec 30, while construction work was still in progress there.With the upgradation of Wana and Miramshah airfields the Federally Administered Tribal Area (Fata) now has three airports, the third one in Parachinar, the headquarters of Kurram Agency.

The Parachinar airport was built in the mid-80s after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and was put into operation by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for domestic flights in 1994.Pakistan International Airlines suspended domestic flights to Parachinar in January 2001 because of financial losses and the airport was abandoned.

A security analyst told Dawn that the upgradation of the airstrips would improve mobility of the armed forces in the tribal region and could be used for civil aviation in peace time.

“From the security point of view, landing facilities for cargo planes in the tribal region are necessary. Instead of sending troops into the region by road, they can be taken there from any base in a short time,” he said.

Official sources said that work on the project in Wana and Miramshah was taken up in 2005.

An official said that the US administration had provided about $80 million for the expansion project.

He said that the project was likely to be completed by the end of year.

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