A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane on Monday made its touchdown at Afghanistan‘s Kabul carrying a handful of passengers. This is the first international commercial flight to land since the Taliban retook power in Afghanistan on August 15.

“There was hardly anyone on the plane, around 10 people… maybe more staff than passengers,” said an AFP journalist aboard the flight from Islamabad.

Meanwhile, a PIA spokesman said that the airline was keen to resume regular commercial services, but it was too soon to say how frequently the flights between the two capitals would operate.

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Earlier, during the evacuation process in Kabul, the Hamid Karzai International Airport was severely damaged. More than 120,000 people were reportedly evacuated that ended with the withdrawal of US forces on August 30.

The Taliban have been scrambling to get it operating again with technical assistance from Qatar and other nations.

Last week, Qatar Airways operated several charter flights out of Kabul, carrying mostly foreigners and Afghans who missed out on the evacuation.

Also, the Taliban had agreed to let as many as 200 US citizens and third-country nationals, left behind in Afghanistan after the 31 August deadline, to depart on chartered flights.

Reuters reported that the US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad played a key role in pressing the Taliban to allow the departures.

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On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had denied reports that the Taliban had blocked Americans attempting to fly out of a northern Afghan city. But he said that the militants had not allowed charter flights to depart because some people lacked valid travel documents.

An Afghan airline resumed its domestic services on September 3, 2021.