Islamabad: Officials of the Pakistan International Airlines, customs and the Anti-Narcotics Force on Wednesday tried to shift the blame for their inability to check and stop the use of the national flag carrier’s aircraft for narcotics smuggling onto each other. The National Assembly Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat with Rana Muhammad Hayat Khan of the PML-N in the chair was briefed by PIA, the ANF and customs about the recovery of 27 kilograms of heroin hidden in secret chambers inside the plane’s toilet of a Europe-bound flight and 3.1 kilograms heroin concealed in one of the bathrooms of a Dubai-bound aircraft at the Karachi International Airport.
The committee took strong exception to the recovery of narcotics from PIA flights and termed such incidents ‘a matter of shame’ for the country.
PIA’s General Manager (security) Nadeem Arif Chaudhry said an steward pointed out the presence of narcotics on the flight.
However, customs official Akhlaq Khattak contradicted him and said it were the ANF and customs officials who recovered the narcotics from the aircraft with the help of sniffer dogs.
The narcotics were stashed in panel sheets of the toilet of business class and it could not be hidden there without the connivance of PIA and other relevant staff, he added.
To this the committee chairperson curtly commented that it was not possible without the involvement of the pilot at least, and asked PIA what action had been taken so far against those responsible for the smuggling.
Chaudhry’s reply that they had suspended two cleaners and an engineering assistant angered the chairperson who commented: why were you after poor people and how could a cleaner be involved in such a huge smuggling incident? “Why do you people not go after real handlers and big guns?”