ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat was briefed by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) and customs in relation to multiple recent incidents of drugs being recovered from PIA aircrafts. The committee was chaired by Rana Muhammad Hayat Khan of the PML-N.
Among other incidents, the committee was briefed about the recent recovery of 27 kg of heroin from a Europe-bound PIA craft and 3.1 kg heroin concealed in one of the bathrooms of a Dubai-bound aircraft.
The committee took strong exception to the recovery of narcotics from PIA flights and termed such incidents ‘a matter of shame’ for the country.
During the proceedings, officials of the Pakistan International Airlines, customs and the Anti-Narcotics Force on Wednesday, attempted to shift the responsibility onto each other for failing to control narcotics smuggling on Pakistan’s national carrier.
PIA’s Common Supervisor (safety) Nadeem Arif Chaudhry stated that an airline steward had identified the presence of narcotics on the flight.
Nevertheless, customs official Akhlaq Khattak contradicted him and said that the ANF and customs officers had recovered the narcotics from the plane with the assistance of sniffer canines.
The narcotics were stashed in bathroom panels of the enterprise class and could not be hidden without the connivance of PIA and aviation officials, he added.
The committee chairperson agreed with this view and asked the PIA supervisor what action had been ordered in relation to the case.
However, the supervisor’s reply did not go down well with the committee, which questioned why the airline had only suspended lower-ranking staff such as two cleaners and an engineering assistant. “Why do you individuals not go after actual handlers and large weapons?” asked the chairman.