RAWALPINDI: Pakistan’s Army Staff General Raheel Sharif called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday and sought help in the safe recovery of the crewmembers of Punjab government’s helicopter that crash-landed in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday.

The Afghan President has assured COAS of his government’s full support in this regard; Director General Inter Services Public Relations Lt-Gen Asim Saleem tweeted.

COAS called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani today and asked him to help in safe and early recovery of crew members of Punjab government helicopter that crash landed in Logar province of Afghanistan on Thursday. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani assured all possible assistance in this regard.

Pakistani officials are still uncertain about the whereabouts of the crewmembers of the Punjab government’s Mi-17 helicopter that crash- landed in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday.

When the helicopter was on its way to Russia via Uzbekistan for maintenance it crashed in Azra district, in the restive Afghan province of Logar, the official added.

The seven-member crew of the helicopter included a Russian pilot and six Pakistani officials who, as per independent reports and local district governor Hamidullah Hamid, have been taken hostage by the Afghan Taliban and transported to an unknown location.

According to sources they set helicopter on fire; other reports say it caught fire as it crashed. Afghan Army later confirmed the news of the helicopter crash-landing and informed Pakistan’s Foreign Office.

The helicopter had been given permission to enter its airspace by the Afghan government and its repair process was also scheduled, confirmed the foreign office.

Taliban have not so far commented on the incident.

The Mi-17 caught fire after the crash, according to Logar governor’s spokesman Salim Saleh while other reports claim that the Taliban set it on fire.

Pakistan’s army uses Russian-made MI-17 helicopters, several of which have crashed in recent years.

In February, an army officer was killed when a military helicopter crashed in northern Pakistan on a routine night training mission.

Last August, 12 people were killed when a helicopter belonging to the army crashed in north-west Pakistan.

And seven people – including two foreign ambassadors – died in May last year when a Mi-17 army helicopter crashed at a holiday resort in the hills of Gilgit.