PIA’s recent debacle  

PIA’s recent debacle   

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) — the national flag carrier — has been embroiled in another controversy, as British authorities confirmed that their Border Force officers had found a “quantity of heroin” on board an Heathrow-bound PIA flight on Monday.

All passengers onboard Flight 785 from Islamabad to London were reportedly asked to disembark upon landing, while the authorities spent nearly two hours searching the flight crew and aircraft.

The fact that the contraband was found hidden inside the structure of the aeroplane further adds to the gravity of the situation and signals towards a well-organised racket operating in cahoots with the inside men, as it is not possible without the involvement of the technicians and or maintenance personnel.

Moreover, it’s even embarrassing that the aircraft was cleared by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) in Pakistan, and indicates that the British authorities received concrete firsthand information to take action.

Such controversies are not new to the national flag carrier as it has come under fire for poor performance, low safety standards the unprofessional attitude of its staff. Members of PIA crew have been sacked previously for smuggling contraband and assisting money laundering operations. In this year alone, PIA has been involved in a number of controversies. Recently, it was criticised when it appeared that a senior pilot operating the Islamabad to London flight handed over the aircraft to an under-training pilot soon after the take-off and took a two-and-a-half-hour nap in the passenger compartment. The recent controversy has further deteriorated the image of the ailing national flag carrier.

Although the administration has announced several strict measures, these incidents have continued to rock the boat consistently. If the crew members were let off by the British authorities, the blame comes towards the maintenance and ground staff and the authorities including CAA, ANF, ASF as well as FIA must take strict action to curb such incidents.

If such incidents continued to happen, there is a chance that the flight carrier might be banned from operations in certain countries, along with damaging the general image of the country. Therefore, it is imperative that the matter is investigated thoroughly at Pakistan’s end, starting with the drawing up of a list of all those who came into contact with the aircraft before its departure and who could have been in a position to plant the narcotics.*