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Saturday, 17 January 2015

India harassing our national airline: Pak.............



NEW DELHI: In this winter chill in India-Pakistan relations, there's another storm quietly building up. Pakistan has alleged that its national carrier PIA is being harassed by Indian authorities for "illegal" purchase of properties in violation of RBI guidelines in an attempt, it said, meant to force PIA to shut its India operations and prevent people to people contacts.

The properties in question, 4 flats on Barakhamba Road, house the main PIA office in India. After it was served a notice by both RBI and ED, PIA has now replied saying that the flats, along with parking plots, were purchased in 2005 as per the Foreign Exchange Management (Acquisition and Transfer of Immovable Property in India) Regulations and that a declaration of the acquisition was filed with RBI within the stipulated 90 days.

This, PIA claims, was even acknowledged by RBI then. The same declaration was made by Citibank through which the payment for the properties was made. PIA has asked RBI and ED to immediately withdraw their notices "in larger interests of people from both countries'' saying these were hampering its operations here.

PIA operates a weekly flight to Lahore and Karachi from Delhi and twice to Karachi from Mumbai. It has had its office in India since 1976. ?PIA, according to Pakistan, will not give in to any "intimidation" and will not stall operations until it is specifically asked to do so by India.

Pakistan officials said that the visa of PIA's chief here had not been extended and that even his mobile phone had been disconnected by indian authorities. "It reflects a malafide intent to stop PIA operation and cause a blow to people to people contact. If PIA shuts down, people in northern India may still travel to Pakistan through Wagah but it will greatly inconvenience those in other parts of the country," said a Pakistan official.

PIA and Pakistan government officials are wondering as to why this issue of violation of RBI guidelines? has come up only 10 years after the purchase of the flats. The obvious inference on their part is that the development may be related to the change of dispensation in India with the Narendra Modi led government taking a more hardline position on issues related to Pakistan.

The first notice to PIA was sent in November 2014. Indian government officials said they had nothing to do with the notice to PIA. According to Indian officials, it is Pakistan which has consistently glossed over the significance of connectivity and better people to people ties by not fulfilling its promise to grant India non discriminatory market access, in return for India's MFN status to Pakistan, and open Wagah border for trade.

Indian officials said it was Pakistan which had delayed the signing of a motor vehicles agreement which would have facilitated free movement of commercial vehicles across Saarc countries. While India cancelled the foreign secretary-level talks last year after Pakistan high commissioner decided to meet Hurriyat leaders, PM Nawaz Sharif's adviser Sartaj Aziz again said last week that Pakistan was not going to hold any dialogue with India without Kashmir on agenda.

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