Flights to Iraq will be re-launched after a hiatus of 30 years. Iran operations, stopped as flights on the route were not economically viable, would resume after a two-year break.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) authorities have taken the decision in the wake of recent attacks on busses carrying Shia pilgrims in Mastaung district of Balochistan province.

Last year, over 200 minority community members were killed in Quetta in such sectarian attacks.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had directed the PIA to resume Iraq-Iran operation without any further delay to facilitate Shias to visit their holy places in those countries.

"Our initiative is part of the government's plan to facilitate Shia pilgrims who are exposed to danger while going to Iran on land route," PIA spokesman Mashhood Tajwar said.

Tajwar said the PIA has selected Najaf destination in Iraq and Mashad in Iran to operate its flights. He further said the PIA was acquiring 10 planes on eight-year dry lease this July.

"After the induction of the new planes we will not only resume its operation on some routes but also increase at least 40 flights on domestic and regional routes including India, Dhaka (Bangladesh), Nepal, Afghanistan," he said.

(Agencies)

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