ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s presidential palace announced on Saturday that a committee would investigate the circumstances surrounding the emergency landing of a Pakistani helicopter.
Pakistani officials say the MI-17 helicopter was being flown to Russia for repairs via Uzbekistan. En route the chopper made a crash landing in Afghanistan’s Logar province on Thursday. The Taliban sources have also confirmed that they have captured all six crew members, including a Russian technician.
President Ashraf Ghani presided over a high-level meeting and discussed the latest developments on the emergency landing in the Azra district of the eastern province, the palace said.
“A delegation was assigned in order to look into different aspects of the case – including the circumstances surrounding the emergency landing- and whether specifics of the MI-17 helicopter match the ones rendered in the request letter and permission documents,” a statement said.
“The meeting also assigned a committee to review the existing rules, regulations and procedures concerning fly-over requests for using Afghan airspace,” said the presidential palace in a statement.
It said the committee will look into any probable gaps, and present a comprehensive plan that can preclude such incidents. The group will then present their findings to the legislative committee of the cabinet. “The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan reserves the right to take diplomatic measures based on the findings of the ongoing investigation,” it said.
However, the statement did not say anything about the efforts of the Afghan government to secure the release of the crew members.
At the meeting officials confirmed that Pakistan had requested permission for a MI-17 helicopter to fly through Afghan airspace.
Afghanistan’s Civil Aviation Authority registered specifics of the helicopter and issued permission for a fly-through. The palace emphasised that the approval was given for the sole purpose of repairs. Taliban sources and the Afghan ambassador in Islamabad, Dr Omar Zakhilwal, told The Express Tribune on Friday that all hostages are safe.