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PIA’s descent

Updated May 18, 2017 07:57am

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THE national flag carrier has suffered another blow to its image with the news that a consignment of heroin has been seized from one of its aircraft at London’s Heathrow airport.

Earlier: British authorities say heroin found on Islamabad-London PIA flight

Apparently, the contraband was hidden inside the structure of the aircraft itself, since the authorities allowed all passengers to disembark before searching the plane. It is almost impossible that the contraband could have been placed in the aeroplane without the involvement of some members of the ground handling staff or maintenance personnel.

The Anti-Narcotics Force had cleared the plane before departure. The crew was not under suspicion because they were released after being briefly detained at the airport. All this indicates that the UK authorities had prior intelligence alerting them to the presence of the consignment in the aircraft, and the information was accurate enough to allow them to let all the passengers disembark before starting their search.

The episode illustrates the multiple dysfunctions that the airline has fallen prey to.

First, the strength of the rackets that operate within its abundant workforce is so powerful that it can be a conduit for narcotics smuggling.

Second, where the UK authorities had prior intimation of the presence of drugs in the plane, the Anti-Narcotics Force seemed to have had no idea. It is not clear who was supposed to retrieve the consignment at London Heathrow, but clearly, whoever was behind this attempt, had made arrangements. It is imperative that the matter be investigated thoroughly at Pakistan’s end, starting with the drawing up of a list of all those who came into contact with the aircraft before its departure and who could have been in a position to plant the narcotics.

This is about more than just the image of the airline. More such incidents involving PIA could have adverse consequences for all international flights operated by the airline. It will be difficult to investigate much over here without at least some cooperation from the UK authorities.

According to some reports, an inquiry has been launched by the customs department, but given that the concealment of the heroin in the panels and other recesses of the plane suggests the involvement of other airport personnel as well, clearly the investigation needs to be on a broader level. PIA has suffered enormously at the hands of the powerful rackets that operate within it, and it needs to be rescued from their clutches if it is to survive.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2017

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Comments (17) Closed



Tariq Laeeq May 18, 2017 01:57am

Privatization can still turn around the fortunes of this airline.

Xiamen May 18, 2017 02:35am

What can be more shamful act than this. A complete inquiry is needed to give an examplary punishment to the culprits.

Hajira aslam May 18, 2017 02:59am

Very poor management of PIA.why government doesn't take action against such corrupt airline

Riaz Ahmad May 18, 2017 04:44am

THE national flag carrier has suffered another blow to its imag.................. What image are you talking about, the only image PIA has is that of an airline with rogue crews including the pilots.

Akil Akhtar May 18, 2017 04:48am

Thats not PIAs fault..customs at Heathrow are responsible for checking all passengers....

anshul May 18, 2017 07:28am

Pia staff doing overtime to improve exports.

Tahir A May 18, 2017 09:24am

Looking at video footage, it looked like the British search team had to break up part of the structure and fittings to reach to the hidden material. How come in normal circumstances, this would have been retrieved so easily by the perpetrators without raising an alarm at Heathrow during aircraft cleaning?

amir ali khan May 18, 2017 11:07am

Yet another example of 'good governance'. The society is trapped in a dark tunnel of moral decadence where mafias have been given a free hand .

Baby ka husband May 18, 2017 07:15pm

You cant flog a dead horse. PIA died a long time ago, no point in making it suffer any longer. Good bye PIA

John Doe May 19, 2017 12:35am

A masala news everyday...good job for a company running only 16 aircrafts!

Zafar Dahir May 19, 2017 11:08am

PIA management owe an explanation to the people of Pakistan for their administrative n functional delinquency. It is not a first time criminal negligence. Many years before , a similar shameful incidence happened while the aircraft was received back for schedule flight from the engineering base. 70 percent native traffic is financial wherewithal of PIA that too on international sector . Aviation division stalwarts n Civil aviation authority has to be hard enough for this unprecedented shameful acts of PIA staff including their accomplices from other departments designated at the departing airport.

M. Ahmed May 20, 2017 12:29am

No one will be caught, just look at previous incidents. It's sad story of having no respect for law and order. Those responsible are working for big guys.

Ayesha May 20, 2017 02:00am

PIA turned into BIA.. Benazir international airline almost 10.years ago where all the jobless PPP jealas..were hired left and right in hundreds..anyone from Liari..with metric degree needed a job was offered a job in PIA.. so we shouldn't be alarmed of this sort of news now.

Retired May 20, 2017 02:16am

Narcotics hidden inside the aircraft!!

This also raises serious concerns about security. If narcotics can be hidden then so can explosives or fire arms! It takes a very small amount of explosive material to bring an aircraft down as we saw with the Russian aircraft blowing mid-air over Egypt last year. With a high level of terrorism threat in Pakistan, this also creates a security dimension of the problem.

Haider May 20, 2017 02:30am

PM should take notice and make a committee

Komal s May 20, 2017 06:37am

@Baby ka husband but then recently you leased planes from Sri Lanka at a premium . Everybody was talking about turnaround! Running an airline is not easy , we have air India with it's challenges, but PIA seems to be going to places where no other airline has gone before.

badeMiyaa May 20, 2017 07:08am

PIA was the best airline in the world beating PANAM of USA in 1964.