Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Asim Bajwa has cleared the air, saying that the recently crash-landed helicopter’s hostages being held by Taliban in Afghanistan are not related to Army Chief General Raheel Sharif.
“Rumours being spread about identity of various crew members of the Punjab Govt heli that crash landed in Lugar province, Afghanistan,” Bajwa tweeted on Saturday.
Terming the rumours ‘absolutely baseless’, Bajwa said, “None of the hostage are related to COAS.”
Further, DG ISPR said the lives of hostages were precious and the army was making required efforts for their safe and early return.
On August 4, a Pakistani helicopter heading to Russia for overhaul crash-landed in eastern Afghanistan. Six people on board were abducted.
Following the crash, General Raheel called the commander of US troops in Afghanistan and asked him to help recover the crew. The Afghan government and Afghan National Army have also been contacted in this regard.
The Mi-17 transport helicopter crashed in Azra district, in the restive province of Logar, then caught fire, said the provincial governor’s spokesperson Salim Saleh. He added that no one was hurt in the crash.
However, some residents in the area said it was the Taliban who set the chopper on fire after it crashed and took the aircraft’s occupants hostage.
The Pakistani military and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Resolute Support Mission initially denied Afghan government and media claims that the helicopter belonged to them. “The helicopter is not of the Pakistan army,” a military official had told The Express Tribune.