Yesterday, Foreign Minister (FM) of the Netherlands, Ms. Sigrid Kaag landed in Pakistan. She visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where FM Qureshi welcomed her.
At a joint press conference, both the FMs discussed Afghanistan and regional developments. Ms. Sigrid Kaag also thanked Pakistan for its evacuation efforts. After their speech, a journalist asked FM Kaag a question that left her speechless.
While addressing FM Qureshi, the journalist asked whether he had ever questioned his counterpart on why Europe is not allowing Pakistan to land if it considers it good enough for the Afghan evacuation.
“Oh wow that is a loaded one [question] and I love it!” FM Qureshi remarked. FM Qureshi then turned to FM Kaag and translated the question.
“What he is saying is if Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) pilots and crafts are good enough to evacuate the Europeans from Kabul, why aren’t they good enough to fly into Europe?” FM Qureshi said.
The European Union #EU which had banned #PIA from operating in Europe has asked the very same PIA to help them evacuate their citizens from #Afghanistan. #Pakistan is always there to assist the world in need! PIA is now assisting numerous countries at the #Kabul airport.
— Zain Khan (@ZKhanOfficial) August 26, 2021
The Dutch FM did not respond immediately. She said she had no knowledge regarding the matter.
“I’m honestly not an airline expert. I wasn’t aware that PIA was not necessarily flying into Europe,” FM Kaag said. “It is an important question to have raised,” she further added.
EUASA seeks PIA’s help despite a suspension
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EUASA) suspended PIA from operating flights to European Union member countries for six months in July 2020 due to safety concerns.
Due to issues with PIA pilots licenses and the airlines’ oversight, the EUASA called for the suspension of PIA.
However, recently, it requested the same PIA it suspended to help evacuate its staff from Kabul.
The European Union (EU) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) requested help from PIA to evacuate their employees from Afghanistan. Up to 420 EU employees have been evacuated from Kabul to Islamabad, with 251 people on the priority list.
Read more: PIA evacuate 350 more people from Kabul