ISLAMABAD: As part of its austerity plan, the government has banned VIP protocol given by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to influential people at airports.

The decision is being implemented by the government from Sunday as the ministry of interior has directed all officials concerned of the investigation agency’s immigration wing to implement it.

It is worth mentioning that such decisions had also been taken by previous governments but they could not implement them in a letter and spirit.

“We have decided to strictly implement the decision to provide equal opportunities to all travellers without any discrimination,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn.

Action will be taken against officials seen giving special treatment to any traveller

It had been observed that influential people were given VIP protocol at airports so that they could avoid standing in long queues and get cleared their luggage without any hustle, he said.

“We have seen that influential people used to seek assistance of FIA officials at airports who (officials) accompanied them to promptly clear their luggage,” the minister said.

The VIP protocol was usually given to politicians, legislators, senior bureaucrats, judges, military officials and journalists.

The interior ministry has directed the FIA that no government official or other VIPs would be given protocol at airports across the country.

In case any FIA official is caught giving protocol to a VIP, he would face strict action, the ministry warned in a letter sent to all zones of the agency.

According to the interior ministry, immigration counters at airports would be monitored and if any VIP was seen being given special treatment, the immigration staff and official in charge of their shift would be immediately suspended.

The ministry also directed the FIA to not harass passengers leaving the country.

The investigation agency was also directed to facilitate passengers of international flights at the time of their arrival at country’s airports.

Interestingly, all previous governments had decided to eliminate VIP culture at airports but there was a VIP lounge at Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad where VIPs and influential people sat in a luxurious atmosphere, meanwhile their luggage was get cleared by officials of FIA, Airport Security Staff or Civil Aviation Authority.

However, there is no such lounge available at the new Islamabad airport established near Fatehjang where all passengers have to follow the normal procedure.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2018

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