ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Sunday asked India to extend visas of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees in New Delhi.
According to Foreign Office spokesperson, Pakistan has raised with India the issue of extension in the visas of PIA employees in New Delhi and hoped that the issue will 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 spokesperson said the PIA has been advised to follow the legal course.
India 's Directorate of Enforcement has issued a notice to 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 .
"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 the report.
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.
PIA spokesman Rana Hanif said that 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 , Hanif said that, "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.
Our Monitoring Desk adds: 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 .
As per India media, after PIA was served a notice by both RBI and ED, it replied that a declaration of the acquisition of land was filed with RBI within the stipulated 90 days.
The PIA said that 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 in India .
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 Pakistani 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 Pakistani 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 .