Pakistani airline accuses Bangladesh of harassing staff

Pakistan International Airlines has suspended flights to Bangladesh in protest to intelligence officials harassing staff stationed in Dhaka

Pakistani airline accuses Bangladesh of harassing staff

World Bulletin / News Desk

Harassment of the national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines’ staff in Dhaka, may lead to the suspension of its flight operations, officials said on Thursday, further straining relations between Islamabad and Dhaka.

Officials from the Pakistani airline blamed Bangladeshi intelligence officials for harassing staff stationed in Dhaka for the past two and a half months.

“Our staff is being harassed and chased by Bangladeshi intelligence officials for the last two and half months,” Pakistan International Airlines, or PIA, spokesman Rana Hanif told The Anadolu Agency.

The Bangladeshi intelligence officials raided the house of PIA’s station manager in Dhaka on Tuesday on the suspicion of smuggling fake Indian currency, the spokesman said.

“They harassed the station manager and his family for two hours but found nothing there,” he said.

The Bangladeshi authorities also searched a PIA plane at Dhaka airport, which was to depart for Karachi on Wednesday, causing a three-hour delay, the spokesman said.

“The Bangladeshi authorities have been monitoring all PIA flights for the last few months on the suspicion of fake currency and gold smuggling. But they have found nothing,” he said.

PIA, which operates five flights a week for Dhaka, cancelled Thursday’s flight in protest.

The station manager Ali Abbas Shah, who according to the PIA spokesman, had been stationing in Dhaka despite all the political unrest and violence, has also been called back.

A large number of Bangladeshis use PIA to travel to Gulf states via Karachi.

Pakistan’s foreign office while confirming the raid on the PIA’s station manager’s house dubbed it as deplorable.

"Our High Commission in Dhaka has taken up the matter with the Bangladesh Foreign Office. We await their explanation and response. This indeed is an unfortunate development," foreign office spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam told reporters during her weekly briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.

Diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh have been strained following the trial and executions of leaders of the country’s main Islamic political party, Jamat-e-Islami who were found guilty of supporting the Pakistani army in the 1971 war by a controversial international war crimes tribunal. Islamabad opposes the executions.

Bangladesh had expelled a Pakistani diplomat posted at the high commission in Dhaka on Feb. 6 for allegedly running an operation to smuggle fake currency across the border to undermine India's financial system and fund militant groups.

Islamabad however denied such an expulsion occurred, saying the diplomat had been called back after completion of his diplomatic term.

Formerly known as East Pakistan, Bangladesh became independent on Dec.16, 1971, following a full-scale war.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Şubat 2015, 15:48