RAWALPINDI: The security agency investigating the discovery of heroin on Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) planes, which are often used for VVIP flights, has said the incident was a “conspiracy” against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his government and has suggested a Joint Investigation Team probe the incidents.

According to a source, the prime minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband retired Captain Safdar were among the passengers of the national carriers’ London-bound flight which was searched by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), Airport Security Force and PIA security officials on May 22.

They found ten packs of off-white heroin concealed in dark-blue pillows meant for the use of the business class passengers.

Investigating team has suggested a joint team to probe the incident

Maryam Nawaz and her husband left the airport after learning that drugs had been recovered from the aircraft but returned to take the flight after being informed that it had been cleared to take-off, said the source.

A security expert said investigations into the incident need to be completed as soon as possible and those behind the “conspiracy” should be brought to justice. “It would have been disastrous if the drugs were recovered on landing in the UK,” he said.

After all, Pakistan’s national carrier and civil aviation authorities were already embarrassed in the wake of Britain’s National Crime Agency recovering heroin from PIA flight PK-785 at Heathrow Airport on May 15.

British agencies reportedly searched the Boeing 777 on a tip off. Though on May 22 the PIA flight identification was also PK-785 it was a different aircraft. But the contraband was hidden in the same tail section of the aircraft as in the case of Boeing 777 at Heathrow.

After the second heroin bust in a week, the ANF launched its investigation while another special team, headed by AIG Police Punjab was constituted to conduct a parallel inquiry.

So far, the ANF has interrogated 33 members of PIA’s catering, security and cleaning staff. After hours-long grilling they were allowed to go without any charges, but with the warning that that they could be called again, if needed.

Sources say letters were sent to the ASF, Customs and others to provide the names of their staff who were on duty on May 22 at the Islamabad airport for questioning in-connection with the seizure of drugs.

In another development, a special ANF team reached Islamabad from Karachi on Thursday to investigate possible links between the two incidents of PIA planes being caught with heroin at Heathrow Airport and the Islamabad airport.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2017

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