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Protest leaves PIA passengers stranded

February 19, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Feb 19: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight from Islamabad to Manchester (PK701) faced delay of more than three hours on Sunday as its pilot got entangled in a protest demonstration against low gas pressure on Airport Road.

The PIA officials told Dawn that the flight from Islamabad to Manchester was schedule to leave at 1:45pm but it got delayed and could only take off at 5:35pm leaving more than 200 passengers stranded at the airport.

When this reporter tried to contact PIA spokesman for comments, he was not available on the cellphone.

Besides, the passengers who had come from other cities also got stranded at the airport due to blockage of roads. Some passengers coming from Karachi had to wait for an hour to leave the airport.

People at the airport were also seen inquiring the details of road blockage from the traffic police deputed at the main gates.

More than 200 people from Rehmatabad, Tipu Road, Chaklala and adjoining areas gathered on the main square of Airport Road near Chaklala Railway Station and blocked the road for more than two hours in protest against low gas pressure in their localities.

Owing to the protest, the traffic on main artery of the city remained blocked for more than two hours. Long queues of vehicles were witnessed on the adjoining roads including Rawal Road, Ammar Chowk, Jhanda Cheechi and Tipu Road.

The protesters said that gas loadshedding was a big problem for the poor who could not afford LPG or wood due to their high prices. They demanded as the government had failed to deliver, it must step down.

"In the morning, the gas pressure is so low that we cannot prepare a cup of tea. Our children have to leave for schools without breakfast," they said, adding that during three days of CNG stations closure, they faced no problem of low gas pressure but on Saturday evening the pressure started creating trouble for the residents.

They said authorities concerned must look into the matter and get the residents of the area rid of the troubling situation.

The Airport police managed to open the road for vehicular traffic after two hours.

Military Police and Traffic Police deputed at Ammar Chowk near garrison headquarters managed to divert the traffic towards Benazir Bhutto Road via district courts roundabout.