19 JANUARY 2015 NEW DELHI – Yet in another blow to the rival Pakistan by India, Authority in New Delhi asked Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to shut its office and their Country Manager to leave the country soon.
According to the news reports by India Times, The Hindu and other major daily news papers, Authorities in New Delhi has refused to renew visa for the Employee of the airlines as well.
Indian authorities have issued a legal notice to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) asking it to shut its office in New Delhi, media reports said.
In the notice, Indian officials alleged that the property for PIA office was purchased illegally.
Reports quoting PIA sources said that Indian authorities have also not extended the visas of PIA staff and issued orders for Station Manager Saeed Ahmed to leave New Delhi.
It may be noted here that a case is pending in an Indian court and according to PIA officials all the property was purchased as per Indian laws. Sources in Pakistan’s High Commission said PIA staff was being harassed by Indian agencies and the purpose of this campaign was to shut Pakistan-India flight operations. At present PIA is running two flights weekly from Lahore to New Delhi, and if operation is closed, passengers will have to travel through Wagah Border.
“We are at a loss to understand why they are acting now, and how we will operate without a marketing and sales offices,” PIA Manager in North India, Saeed Ahmad Khan, was quoted in a report in The Hindu newspaper.
He added that the airline had been operating at the New Delhi premises since the past nine years and the Reserve Bank of India had been duly informed at the time of purchase in 2005.
According to a Dawn online report, PIA staff in New Delhi would appear before Indian authorities on January 29 and present the record and documents pertaining to the purchase, which had been carried out in accordance with the law.
Commenting on the denial of visa extension to PIA staff, PIA spokesman Rana Hanif said: “Given the relations between India and Pakistan, denial of visa extension is a routine issue faced by the airline’s staff; the visas are normally extended via diplomatic means.” He added that the staff had been instructed to maintain contact with the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi in this regard.
Nine years since RBI first wrote to the Finance Ministry, notifying it about the PIA acquisition, the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) had informed RBI in June 2014 that “the proposal has been examined and rejection of the Government of India is hereby conveyed to the proposal of M/s Pakistan International Airlines for acquisition of immovable property at New Delhi, India”.
PIA had bought four flats in Kailash Building in Kasturba Gandhi Marg totaling 2,576 square feet in 2005 from the “surplus funds of Pakistan International Airlines, New Delhi”, according to the declaration the PIA submitted with the RBI in 2005. In the declaration, PIA had stated that the property was bought for its offices.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has raised with India the issue of extension in the visas of PIA employees in New Delhi. According to a Foreign Office spokesperson, the issue will hopefully be resolved soon.
The spokesperson said the Indian authorities have also been informed about the notice received by the PIA office in New Delhi regarding its property.
The notice sent to PIA said the properties in New Delhi were acquired in contravention of the Foreign Exchange Management Act and without prior permission from the Reserve Bank of India.
The spokesperson said the PIA has been advised to follow the legal course.
This is not the first time that Indian Authority has refused visa extension of Pakistani’s staying in India but the current episode may escalate bigger impact in India – Pakistan relation to another level of diplomatic tension.
Source: Agencies/ The Hindu