ISLAMABAD: Political compulsion and security scare were the two reasons that got Dr Tahirul Qadri’s Islamabad-bound flight from Dubai diverted to Lahore, while orders to this effect came from the ‘highest office’, it has been learnt.
While the top aviation managers remained tight-lipped over who ordered the diversion of the Emirates plane to Lahore, informed sources told Daily Times instructions were issued by none other than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself. Aviation Secretary Muhammad Ali Gardezi, when contacted, refused to share details on who ordered the diversion of the flight but contended that the decision was taken in the ‘best interests of passengers’.
Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said the decision to divert the flight was taken by the federal government after thoroughly considering the matter. “You cannot say that the PM alone took this decision. The matter was taken up with the top aviation and security officials including the officers and the federal ministers before an agreement was reached on the course of action,” he told Daily Times.
After landing at the Lahore airport, Qadri refused to disembark unless his demands were met. Aviation sources say the Emirates management was planning to officially launch a complaint against Qadri. “In such cases, the proceedings against any passenger can attract the intervention of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) that may result in initiation of hijack proceedings. Hijacking is a very serious offence that may result in heavy penalty and jail term,” officials said.
Background discussions with senior aviation officials suggest that as per standard operating procedure, director general of the CAA is empowered to order the diversion of any domestic or international flight scheduled to land at a Pakistani airport.
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