Islamabad: Pakistan today sought help from the US and Afghan government to ensure safe return of the crew of a Pakistani helicopter that crash-landed in a lawless region of Afghanistan and is being held by the Taliban. An MI-17 helicopter owned by Punjab provincial government was on its way to Russia for routine maintenance when it was forced to make crash-landing yesterday in Logar, a province with large areas under Taliban control.
Pakistan army spokesman said that army chief General Raheel Sharif called NATO and US forces top commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for help to get back the crew. “General Nicolson assured all possible help in this regard,” it said. President Ghani also promised his support in locating and getting back the crew members, army said.
Afghan ministry of defence spokesman Dawlat Waziri said in a statement in Kabul that his country “ordered its security forces to use all force necessary to rescue the helicopter crew in question.” Afghan Taliban sources said that seven crew members, including a Russian national, were in their custody and the central leadership will make a decision for their return.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said federal government is in constant touch with the relevant authorities in Afghanistan and the state’s resources are fully utilised to rescue the personnel who were onboard in the helicopter. “Formal and informal channels are being used to ensure safe recovery of the entire crew,” he said in a statement.
“We are profoundly concerned about the safety of the whole team that was travelling on the helicopter. We have formally requested the Government of Afghanistan to help in their safe recovery, at the earliest possible,” he said further. It is not known what forced the plane to crash-land in the hostile terrain and region.