A plane carrying Pakistan's Parliament Speaker and a delegation of lawmakers was not allowed to land in Kabul and was turned back due to security reasons after explosives, apparently years old, were found buried near the airport.
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser was heading a nine-member parliamentary delegation to Kabul for a three-day visit on the special invitation of Speaker of Afghan Wolesi Jirga Mir Rehman Rehmani.
A spokesperson for the speaker said that Qaiser along with the delegation had departed for Kabul from the Islamabad International Airport as per schedule but when their aircraft was still in the air, the delegation members were informed that Kabul airport had been closed due to some “security reasons”, the Dawn News reported.
The plane was about to descend when the control tower informed of the closure of the airport.
Riaz Arian, the commander of Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIR), told Afghanistan's Tolo News that Qaisar’s flight was diverted because of the relocation of unexploded explosives from under a building near the airport.
An official from NATO’s Resolute Support Mission said a digging crew uncovered explosives that appeared to have been buried "for quite some time" in the area, the news portal reported.
“During construction at HKIA international airport, a digging crew uncovered unexploded ordnance that appears to have been buried for quite some time. The explosives were uncovered in an unoccupied area far from any active runway. Turkish military explosives experts conducted a controlled detonation to render the device safe. Flight operations resumed shortly thereafter,” said the official.
Qaiser later received telephone calls from his Afghan counterpart as well as chairman of Afghanistan’s Senate Fazal Hadi.
During their telephone conversation, the two Afghan leaders said the Pakistani plane was not allowed to land at Kabul airport due to security concerns. They expressed the hope that the Pakistani delegation would soon visit Afghanistan, the Dawn News reported.
Qaiser vowed to visit Afghanistan as soon as the security situation improved. He also remarked that Pakistan would continue to play its role for peace in Afghanistan.
It was to be the first official visit of the Speaker to Afghanistan on the special invitation of his Afghan counterpart.