• publish: 12 December 2015
  • time: 9:03 pm
  • category: Security&Crime
  • No: 2611
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Foreign and Civil Aviation Ministers faced questioning by MPs over illegal plane landing in Herat

Minister of foreign affairs Salahuddin Rabbani, Civil Aviation and Transport Minister Mohammadullah Batash along with the head of Air Traffic Control Captain Hamid on Saturday faced questioning by MPs over recent illegal landing of a gulf state airplane in Herat province.

Reports emerged earlier this month that a plane reportedly from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took off from Sharjah in the Persian Gulf and landed at Herat airport without having had the necessary clearance. On board were 10 high-end vehicles and food.

According to officials at the time a number of passengers off-loaded the plane immediately after it landed. The plane then departed.

However, the fact that the plane did not have landing clearance led President Ashraf Ghani to take swift action. He immediately suspended the head of the Herat airport.

But Batash insists that the plane had been cleared to land by officials and that the airport’s director had not been at fault.

According to Batash, the plane however departed for Qatar soon after he received an order from the president to seize it.

“I agree that you issued a permit to the plane to land, but when you noticed that something suspicious was going on, how did you allow it to leave?” asked MP Nahid Farid.

But as politicians continue to argue over the issue, officials – including the head of the air traffic control department – insist the plane landed after being given clearance. However, local officials in Herat reject this and say the plane did not have permission to land.

“The civil aviation authority has already permitted free cargo to land as per request. But when it comes to illegal equipment such as hunting tools inside cargo, the aviation authority should have asked for details,” captain Hamid said.

“However, the chief of the airport was suspended following orders by officials, but instead I do not see he was at fault because he received permission from the center [Kabul] and the airport chief implemented the order,” Batash said.

Initially speculation surfaced that Qatari officials were due to visit Herat, but Foreign Minister Rabbani dismissed these claims, insisting that no official invitation had been sent to Qatari officials to visit the western province.

“We enjoy diplomatic relations with Qatar and our embassy works there. But regarding the guests I must say that Afghan embassy did not issue visas to Qatari officials in Doha,” Rabbani said.

But the MPs on Saturday said a task team has been assigned to probe the controversial issue.

“Security officials aren’t present at the moment in the house to give details of the event, however, the government has assigned a task team to investigate the matter. The government task team is obliged to report back to the house on the outcome of the investigation,” MP Zahir Qadeer said.

Six passengers, one Pakistani and five Afghans, allegedly arrived on the plane and offloaded its cargo.

On board were 10 high-end vehicles and food.

Police in Herat detained the passengers from the plane – which had allegedly come in from Sharjah in the Persian Gulf.

The security institutions however confiscated the vehicles and food. At the time, rumors were rife that the flight had brought in equipment for hunters who are believed to go after rare birds in the area.

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