Punjab govt helicopter crashes in Afghanistan, occupants held by Taliban

Published: August 4, 2016
Email
File photo of MI-17. PHOTO: AFP

File photo of MI-17. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD / PULI ALAM, AFGHANISTAN: A Pakistani helicopter heading to Russia for overhaul crash-landed in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, officials said. Reports suggested that six people on board are feared to be abducted.

Following the crash, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif called the commander of US troops in Afghanistan and asked him to help recover the crew. The Afghan government and Afghan National Army have also been contacted in this regard.

Punjab govt helicopter crashes in Afghanistan, occupants held by Taliban

The Mi-17 transport helicopter crashed in Azra district, in the restive province of Logar, then caught fire, said the provincial governor’s spokesperson Salim Saleh. He added that no one was hurt in the crash.

However, some residents in the area said it was the Taliban who set the chopper on fire after it crashed and took the aircraft’s occupants hostage.

The Pakistani military and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) Resolute Support Mission initially denied Afghan government and media claims that the helicopter belonged to them. “The helicopter is not of the Pakistan army,” a military official had told The Express Tribune.

The Resolute Support Mission said the helicopter “does not appear to be NATO aircraft.”

It wasn’t till later in the evening that the Pakistan embassy in Kabul and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad confirmed that the aircraft belonged to Pakistan.

“An Mi-17 transport helicopter belonging to the Punjab government was scheduled to fly to Russia for repairs. We think the same chopper crash-landed in Logar,” Akhtar Munir, a spokesperson for the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul, told AFP.

“We don’t know anything about the fate of those on-board or why it crash-landed.”

Pakistan joins quadrilateral group to counter terrorism

Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakariya in Islamabad also confirmed that the Punjab Government helicopter was on its way to Russia via Uzbekistan for repair and maintenance. It was not clear why the helicopter took the specific route to fly to Uzbekistan. The Afghan Taliban said they did not have any information about the incident.

Earlier, local district governor Hamidullah Hamid had said six people on board had been taken hostage by the Taliban and transported to an unknown location.

Army chief asks for help

Hours after the helicopter crashed, Army chief General Raheel Sharif called RSM commander General John Nicholson.

“COAS called Gen Nicholson, Commander RSM in Afghanistan, asked him to help in recovery of crew of Punjab government helicopter that crash-landed in Logar province,” tweeted DG ISPR Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa. “Gen Nicholson assured [Gen Raheel] of all possible help in this regard.”

Lt Gen Bajwa added that the Afghan government and ANA authorities have also been contacted for their assistance in recovering the crew members.

The crew included five retired Pakistani military officials and one Russian technician.

Shahbaz Sharif meets family of missing crew members

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Friday visited families of the missing crew members to offer condolence, Express News reported.

CM Shahbaz assured the family members that rescue operations are underway for the safe recovery of all crew members.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (18)

  • roadkashehzada
    Aug 4, 2016 - 9:17PM

    an unarmed unaccompanied helicopter flying over a warzone? seriously? those who planned this flight should be held accountable.Recommend

  • Ajmal
    Aug 4, 2016 - 9:48PM

    This is because of Rajnath SinghRecommend

  • Aug 4, 2016 - 10:44PM

    Pakistani government should send special forces to rescue hostages….enough is enoughRecommend

  • Abdullah
    Aug 4, 2016 - 11:12PM

    @Sami Shahid:
    May be they were your “Special Forces” who went there to do some kind of karnama. Recommend

  • Astola
    Aug 5, 2016 - 12:10AM

    In order to reach Kazakhstan you have to fly over Afghanistan. The helicopter was going there for repair with a Russian on board@roadkashehzada: Recommend

  • Puppet on a chain
    Aug 5, 2016 - 12:12AM

    Talibans are nobody’s friend. Their taking of hostages shows they have no soft corner for Pakistan and vindicates our policy of no good n bad taliban anymore.Recommend

  • buga
    Aug 5, 2016 - 1:15AM

    Who’s the bright guy that decided to fly a mechanically impaired helicopter to Russia for maintenance? You guys fly your f-16’s to the USA for repair?Recommend

  • M.S.
    Aug 5, 2016 - 2:31AM

    Most of the air traffic avoid Afghanistan air space. Esp. Helicopters should avoid because it’s very easy to hit them. Afghanistan is such a place where birds don’t take risk. Recommend

  • سے Shaam (Hanafi)
    Aug 5, 2016 - 5:46AM

    Heights of incompetency, you fly a mechanically and technically compromised helicopter, all the way through two countries to get it fixed, knowing very well the dangers in Afghanistan…The Russian on the helicopter and the Pakistani staff, should be taken to task, upon their safe recovery, if ever they’ll be able to achieve it. Even a small defect car is towed away to safety from road, and you are talking about a M17 helicopter… Geniuses!!!
    P.S Would have been better, if they had the politicians aboard rather than common Pakistanis :)Recommend

  • Aug 5, 2016 - 9:14AM

    @Abdullah:
    LOL….even if they were than it clearly tells that you have no control over your country.Recommend

  • AD
    Aug 5, 2016 - 9:51AM

    This is all fabricated story flying to Russia for repairs etc etc. The real reason is kept secret . Must be transporting some important person or having some mission.Was Afghan and NATO forces informed about route in advance.Recommend

  • FAZ
    Aug 5, 2016 - 10:10AM

    @Abdullah:
    May be they did the karnama but were caught escaping and have been successfully evacuated by our “old” friendsRecommend

  • Swati Prince
    Aug 5, 2016 - 11:09AM

    Please release the names of passengers. I am getting worried now. Recommend

  • Close thought !!!
    Aug 5, 2016 - 12:29PM

    @buga:

    Mr.Engineer may be one needed the fault to be showed directly to the manufacturer….lolzzRecommend

  • rajeev
    Aug 5, 2016 - 12:32PM

    @Ajmal:
    yes ..now like saudi incidence this time too ..they will be handed over to India ..which will claim kulbhusan and others in returns …Recommend

  • Whatacountry
    Aug 5, 2016 - 12:39PM

    I believe this is the same helicopter which Shahbaz Sharif was trying to replace at Public expense. This MI17 was last seen during the exile period of Sharifs. Media should have the record. It is a privately owned copter by them. The whole story is part of buying new copter with latest technology. It will be secret like the Orange train but God has His own ways of handling such matters.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Aug 5, 2016 - 12:56PM

    Soon Shahbaz Sharif will be travelling in a Sikorsky, just like his brother’s heli.Recommend

  • asif
    Aug 8, 2016 - 4:07PM

    please see the other side of the coin too.Recommend

More in Pakistan