LAHORE: The Punjab government on Saturday launched a probe into the alleged misuse of the chief minister’s helicopter by the friends of his personal staff officer (PSO).
A controversy erupted after the news of the misuse of CM Usman Buzdar’s helicopter by his PSO Haider Ali’s friends from Lahore to Faisalabad went viral on Saturday where the people on board could be seen taking selfies and filming the aerial view of Lahore from the chopper.
As the news broke, the CM’s spokesperson denied it, claiming that no helicopter flight to Faisalabad had taken place and that the news was fake.
“The PSO’s friends only took pictures with the helicopter and didn’t use it to travel anywhere,” the spokesman clarified.
When contacted, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Tahir Khurshid said that the data from the helicopter’s logbook was being checked. He added, “This event is two years old perhaps”.
Mr Haider Ali said the helicopter could never be brought out of its hangar without the permission of the CM. Similarly, he said, there were other procedural permissions to take a flight.
“No such thing has ever happened,” he insisted and claimed that an initial probe report had made it clear that “the helicopter did not go to Faisalabad”.
He told Dawn that over two years ago his close relative’s friends had taken selfies in and outside the helicopter when it was being generally inspected by an engineers’ team.
About the videos showing the aerial view of Lahore from the helicopter, Mr Ali said it was a conspiracy of some people to defame the Punjab government, describing the video clip as edited.
Mr Ali also asserted that even the chief secretary could not use the helicopter without the CM’s permission.
“I will resign from service if it is ascertained that I allowed the helicopter’s flight to Faisalabad for the friends of my relative”.
Talking to Dawn, the chief minister’s spokesperson also termed the news item aired on some TV channels baseless, saying that only the chief minister had the authority to use helicopter. He added that the crew and staff could take helicopter flight during technical inspection. He said the PSO had no authority to use the helicopter and the complete record of the helicopter’s logbook was maintained.
The CM’s spokesman said the journalistic code of conduct was not taken care of while reporting this news and right to take legal action against the private TV channels and reporters for broadcasting baseless and misleading news could be used.
Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2021