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Terror threat: Peshawar airport closed for 'indefinite period'

June 17, 2009 22:41 IST
Pakistan on Wednesday shut down the Peshawar airport for all domestic and international flights for an "indefinite period" owing to terror threats as well as planned military operation in Waziristan to hunt down Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Baituallah Mehsud.

The Civil Aviation Authority, however, has cited "technical" reasons for its closure. "We have some technical issues and sooner they will be done away the airport will be reopened for flights," CAA spokesman Georg Pervez told PTI.

The Pakistan International Airline and other foreign and domestic operators have announced diverting their operations to and from Islamabad. "We will now be operating to and from Islamabad till we get clearance from the CAA," PIA spokesperson Yasmin Haroon said.

Last week some 18 people, including two employees of United Nations and pilot of Pakistan International Airline, where killed when a van loaded with explosives rammed into Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province.

The Pakistan Air Force has started its operation with a strike on Makeen, a key trade centre of Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan last week, to avenge the suicide bombing in Lahore that killed anti-Taliban cleric Dr Sarfraz Naeemi.

"We wanted to deliver a message to Baitullah. If he carries out a suicide bombing then there will be a response and that he can not get away with these attacks. There will be a quid pro quo," a senior military officer told Dawn.

Mehsud's militia force is believed to be between 40,000 and 50,000. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has already announced that the all out war against Mehsud will continue till its logical end.

M Zulqernain in Lahore
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