ISLAMABAD - The United States yesterday rules out direct flight with Pakistan for the time being. A US embassy statement said that officials from US Transport Security Administration will visit the New Islamabad International Airport next week to review Pakistan’s aviation security infrastructure. The trip has been organised as part of the US Mission to Pakistan’s “ongoing efforts to strengthen economic ties and air connectivity between the United States and Pakistan.” However, “there are no imminent plans for direct flights between Pakistan and the United States”. The statement added: “The United States remains committed to partnering with Pakistan for a prosperous future.” According to the statement, the TSA personnel will meet with the Civil Aviation Authority, the Pakistan International Airline and the Aviation Division officials to identify international security standards. “TSA has been invited by PIA to conduct a formal assessment of security standards at Islamabad International Airport,” reads the statement.

TSA Attaché Daniel McQuaid said “secure international air travel is essential to facilitate trade and connections and fostering stronger bonds between the United States and Pakistan”. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority as we explore additional areas of cooperation and the possibility of capacity development,” he added. PIA had discontinued direct flights to the US in October 2017 due to rising operational costs and in a bid to cut losses. Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper has postponed his proposed visit Pakistan, India and Uzbekistan.Department of Defense spokesperson Alyssa Farah said in a statement that the visit will take place at “a later date.” Farah said: “Out of an abundance of caution, the secretary of defence has decided to postpone his travel.” Mark Esper was likely to visit Pakistan later this month, as there were significant improvements in the relation between Islamabad and Washington. Pakistan has played a vital role in the process of Afghan peace. The secretary’s visit was originally expected in the third week of March as Pakistan looks to the US to get it out of the Financial Action Task Force’s grey list.

The US has recently praised Pakistan’s role for regional peace and elimination of terror.