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January 19, 2015

India orders PIA to vacate New Delhi office

Top Story

 
January 19, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been asked by the Indian authorities to vacate its office in New Delhi and PIA staff asked to return to Pakistan.
In response to the Indian action, the Pakistan Foreign Office said that the issue would be taken up with the Indian authorities and resolved soon.PIA will challenge the latest attack by the Modi government legally, as it will move the court in response to a move by the Indian government asking PIA to vacate its properties in New Delhi.
“This only shows how difficult it will be to deal with the Modi government. They have the ability to make issues out of non-issues without realising they can never browbeat Pakistan or gain anything by creating avoidable irritants,” diplomatic sources told The News.
On Sunday, The Hindu ran a report saying: “India’s Directorate of Enforcement has issued a notice to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) asking it to ‘dispose of’ its properties in New Delhi calling their purchase as ‘unauthorised’.”
The notice sent to the 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.
“Never before has New Delhi ever raised any objection. Now after 10 years they are asking the PIA to dispose of the two properties at a prime location,” the sources maintained.He added that the two properties were bought by the PIA in May/June 2005. All codal requirements were completed by the PIA and financier, the CitiBank. As required, the Reserve Bank of India was informed within 90 days of the transaction both by the PIA and CitiBank, he explained.
The PIA in its response on Friday challenged the vacation notice and intends to contest the matter legally if the need arises.“We are at a loss to understand why they are acting now, and how we will operate without a marketing and sales office,” PIA Manager in North India, Saeed Ahmad Khan, was

quoted in the report.
It is rather strange that the Modi government, after a period of 10 years, now deems fit to ask the PIA to dispose of its four flats in Kailash Building in Kasturba Gandhi Marg. The area totals 2,576 feet and is used to house the offices of PIA. Last July, it was the same government that asked the UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to vacate a government bungalow it had used for 40 years rent-free.
In keeping with disrupting the past practices, India had also called off the foreign secretary-level talks on the flimsy excuse that Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit had decided to meet the Kashmiri Hurriyet leaders, meetings which Pakistan maintains are “held to facilitate meaningful discussion on the issue of Kashmir”.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s High Commission is also in the process of ensuring that the visas of PIA officials, which have not been extended by the Indian Home Ministry, are processed.This is a normal procedure as PIA officials go through the high commission for their visa requirement.