Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to increase frequency of flights

In the meantime, Afghanistan's planes will also be allowed to fly to the airports of Islamabad, Quetta, and Peshawar, the report said.

Islamabad/Kabul: Pakistan and Afghanistan have signed an agreement to increase the frequency of flights between the two countries and also to provide professional training to Afghanistan’s aviation staff in areas of security, traffic controlling, firefighting, air forecast, and airport management, according to a media report on Wednesday.

The bilateral agreement was signed during Afghanistan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi’s recent visit to Pakistan since the Taliban took control of Kabul in mid-August.

Kabul and Islamabad also agreed to be conducting ten flights every week between both capitals. Among them, two would be carried out by large planes and the rest by small ones, Afghan news agency Khaama Press reported.

The number of seats will be increased from 1,000 to 1,500 and planes will be able to fly from any airport of Pakistan to Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Kandahar, said the report, citing a statement issued by the Afghan embassy in Pakistan on Tuesday.

In the meantime, Afghanistan’s planes will also be allowed to fly to the airports of Islamabad, Quetta, and Peshawar, the report said.

After the Taliban seized power in Kabul in mid-August, international flights to Afghanistan were halted.

Muttaqi’s three-day visit to Pakistan was not only aimed at attending the Troika Plus meeting but also to discuss bilateral issues including trade, transit, and the difficulties at crossing points between Pakistan and Afghanistan, it said.

The meeting attended by representatives from China, Russia and the US, coincided with the visit of Muttaqi, who arrived in Islamabad as part of efforts by the two sides to reset their ties in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in mid-August.

Muttaqi led a 20-member high-level delegation comprising Minister for Finance Hidayatullah Badri, Minister for Industries and Trade Nooruddin Aziz and senior officials from the aviation ministry.

The meeting was held after a break of three months and was expected to evolve consensus on how to engage with the Taliban government.

Pakistan has been trying to convince the world to diplomatically engage with the Taliban after they seized control of Kabul on August 15. However, the international community is still sceptical about the hardline Islamists, especially on issues like terrorism emanating from the war-torn country and their promises to respect human rights.

Afghanistan has been under the Taliban rule since August 15 when the Afghan hardline militant group ousted the elected government of President Ashraf Ghani and forced him to flee the country and take refuge in the UAE.

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