Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pakistan: Cathay Pacific Cancels Flights Originating in Bangkok, Other Carriers May Follow Suit

According to Reuters, Cathay Pacific Airways has cancelled all flights to the Pakistani city of Karachi from Bangkok following a Taliban raid on the country's busiest airport this week, as top Pakistani officials discuss how to tackle the escalating violence.

International flights in and out of Karachi have been suspended twice since Sunday, when gunmen wearing military uniforms stormed the airport, firing rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) in an all-night siege that killed at least 34 people.

"We will continue to monitor the situation closely," Cathay said in a statement. "Customers are recommended to check flight status before departing for the airport."

In Islamabad, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a meeting with security officials late on Tuesday (June 10) to discuss how to handle the crisis as the escalation of violence raised the prospects of an all-out army campaign against insurgents. 

The Pakistani Taliban said they had carried out the Karachi attacks in response to strikes on their positions on the Afghan border.

COMMENT: Security was tight around Karachi International Airport and the bustling city of 18 million people remained nervous after the twin attacks, though life seemed to have returned to normal, with shops and markets open and people going about their daily tasks.

The original plan reportedly was to seize a jetliner full of passengers that would have demonstrated the capacity of the Taliban to successfully strike anywhere in the country.

The Pakistani Taliban are allied with the Afghan militants of the same name and share a similar jihadist ideology.

Yet, the avowed objective of the Pakistani Taliban is to establish sharia law in the nuclear-armed nation, whereas the Afghan Taliban are united by their campaign against invading foreign forces.