FM stresses early resumption of PIA flights to UK

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Pakistan International Airline (PIA) planes are positioned on the tarmac at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad on October 10, 2012. PIA have planed to reopen its flights for Swat valley which was shut down in 2007 due to the security situation. AFP PHOTO/Farooq NAEEM

Faisal Sheikh

Islamabad, MAR 25: Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, in a phone call with British counterpart David Cameron on Monday, stressed the need for early resumption of national carrier Pakistan International Airline’s (PIA) flights to the United Kingdom to “bolster linkages”, according to the Foreign Office (FO).

In July 2020, the UK had joined several countries in suspending PIA’s flight operations due to concerns about the authenticity of pilot licences.

On Saturday, Dar had said that PIA flights to the UK would res­ume “in weeks, not months”, and that he took up the matter of banned flights of the national carrier with British government officials over the weekend in London. Sources had told Dawn that the matter came under discussion during Dar’s meetings as he urged UK officials to review the matter.

Today, a press release from the FO said Dar received a call from British Foreign Secretary David Cameron during which the foreign minister made his request regarding the resumption of flights, saying that it would further bolster linkages, particularly in view of the large Pakistani diaspora in the UK.

FM Dar thanked Lord Cameron for his felicitations on the former assuming office, saying that he looked forward to working closely with the UK leadership to further strengthen bilateral relations.

He also stressed the need to enhance bilateral cooperation in trade and investment, people-to-people contacts and climate matters.

The two ministers also discussed important regional issues, including Afghanistan and the situation in Gaza. Dar also invited Lord Cameron to visit Pakistan on mutually convenient dates.

“Reiterating the importance of [the] Pakistan-UK relationship, the foreign minister said that Pakistan and the UK had longstanding, historic relations with multifaceted cooperation. The foreign minister emphasised the early conclusion of the Enhanced Strategic Partnership agreement to take relations to the next level,” the FO said.