Ministry seeks report on Karachi airport incident
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Defence will seek a report on the Karachi Airport incident involving Law Minister Wasi Zafar and his son amid opposition’s demand for an independent inquiry into the matter.
"There can be no greater affront to law when the law minister himself is accused of abetting in lawlessness," said Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq is equally shocked by the incident, which according to him, is a test case to judge the government’s resolve in the rule of law.
While the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Airport Security Force (ASF) continue to shift responsibility as to who should proceed against the violator on each other, the Ministry of Defence governing the two has shown the intention to dig up the matter.
In absence of the secretary defence, Additional Secretary Defence Major-General (Retd) Muhammad Ashraf Chaudhry told The News that the ministry did not receive any official report on the matter.
He, however, said he would ask the concerned authorities to send him a report on the matter.
Though the ASF top bosses in Karachi were difficult to approach by a reporter, the additional secretary defence was courteous enough to offer that he would direct the concerned offices in Karachi to answer The News queries.
The ASF boss in Karachi Brigadier Javed, who talked to this correspondent only after intervention by the additional secretary defence, initially said the CAA is the authority concerned to deal with such matters.
But when told the ASF officials had reportedly witnessed the sorry incident wherein the minister’s son was found bashing a PIA passenger at the Karachi Airport lounge in the presence of his father, Brigadier Javed said it was a quarrel between two passengers and none had reported the matter to the ASF.
When asked if the ASF requires a complaint to proceed against those involved in physical bout within the airport premises, he said the two sides had entered into a compromise.
Brigadier Javed’s second-in-command Colonel Tanvir was not ready to add anything to what the Brigadier had said. When asked if the law exempted the minister and his son to escape the routine security check, which became the reason for the airport fight, he said: "Yes there are certain exemptions."
When probed further, he advised this correspondent to talk to the Defence Ministry about the details of the "exempted ones".
A source in the Defence Ministry confirmed that selected important persons including the ministers are exempted from security check at the airport but it was categorically stated that ministers’ families were not included in the list. The source believed the ASF reluctance to talk on the subject was due to a lapse on its part.
"They were not supposed to let the minister’s son bypass the routine security check," the source said.
The CAA, which has the overall responsibility of the country’s airports, is not ready to take any responsibility on the matter. Both the CAA Chief Operation Officer Salim Athar and Senior Administration Officer Khawaja Aamir at Karachi Airport told ‘The News’ they did not receive any complaint about the said incident.
"Our complaint book has nothing of this sort," said Athar, adding that this issue pertained to the ASF. Khawaja was of the view that if somebody did not lodge a formal complaint with the authority, then there was little the CAA could do.
Responding to a question, he said, the ASF could tell the reasons for not searching the minister’s son at the Karachi Airport. He added that he was totally unaware of the incident and had not even read anything about it in the newspapers.
While dithering and dodging was obvious in official circles, PPPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar demanded a thorough inquiry into the matter.
"Nobody should be above the law and if the minister and his son are found guilty, they should be given exemplary punishment under the law," he told The News.
If the government does not take any action immediately, he warned, the matter would be raised in the parliament as well.
"There can be no greater affront to law where the law minister is himself accused of abetting in lawlessness," he remarked.
While commenting on the matter, Raja Zafarul Haq said: "It should be a test case for the government to see if they accept the rule of law in the country or the nation would continue suffering discrimination between different classes of people at every step."
Source: The News