• Khaqan Murtaza points out lack of coordination between ASF, ANF and Customs officials at airports
• Senate committee discusses bidding processes, action against fake degrees in PIA

RAWALPINDI: Khaqan Murtaza, the director general of Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA), on Monday criticised Customs, Airport Security Force (ASF) and Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and accused them of harassing passengers at airports.

The DG CAA said this while addressing the Senate Standing Committee’s meeting on Aviation held at Parliament House, Islamabad. The DG CAA alleged that they continue to collect money by harassing passengers at Customs, ASF and ANF, taking passengers to the side, sending them to jail and threatening to miss flights.

Senator Hidayatullah, chaired the meeting, which was attended by Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, Senator Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, Senator Umer Farooq, Senator Faisal Saleem Rahman, senior officers of the Ministry of Aviation, including DG CAA and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The meeting exposed the lack of coordination among agencies at airports and pointed out impolite attitudes with passengers, some participants had experienced.

“You will not find any uniformed armed personnel at any airport in the world,” the DG CAA said, adding, “It looks like an aggressive atmosphere that is unheard of elsewhere. It feels as if we live in a cantonment.”

Committee Chairman Hadayat­ullah also raised concerns about the ‘attitude’ of the ANF at the airport. He asked how an expatriate will feel when he lands and finds four personnel standing in different uniforms in front of him.

“It is not sensible to harass a passenger coming from abroad,” he said.

Senator Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah also shared his own experience with ANF officials at IIAP, saying that once he was going abroad when one of the ANF officials shouted at him, asking, “Who are you?”

The DG CAA mentioned that a team of 25 officials from the UK’s Department for Transport recently visited Pakistan and expressed satisfaction with the security checks. “With the installation of 39 scanning machines, we will meet international standards.”

Matters taken up by the committee included bidding process of the Allama Iqbal International Airport, remittances due to ticket sales not being allowed to remit foreign exchange, action against those appointed in PIA on fake degrees, setting up security agencies counters in one place at different airports and distance of the Islamabad Air­port building from the parking lot.

During the deliberation on the bidding process of the Allama Iqbal International Airport, the committee was informed that the lowest bidder, M/s Sinohydro, was selected after a rigorous bidding process based on the lowest bid. However, the bidder is now attem­pting to withdraw from the contract.

Regarding the issue of remittances from ticket sales not being allowed to remit foreign exchange, the committee was informed that foreign airlines are not obligated to share their financial statements with the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority, including outstanding remittances. The committee directed the PCAA to provide any details regarding payments/remittances available to them.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2023

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