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History of PIA - Pakistan International Airlines

Date: January 20, 1978

Aircraft Type: Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 400

Registration: AP-ALW

Crew: 6 on board  (Cockpit crew names at the bottom of this page)

Passengers: 36 on board

Total on board: 42

Number of hijackers: 1

Victims: 0

Flight: Sukkur - Karachi

Flight number: PK-543

Description: At 9:45 AM on January 20, 1978, AP-ALW departed from Sukkur Airport as scheduled PIA flight PK-543 to Karachi. Near the end of breakfast service the hijacker got up from his seat and entered the cockpit. Armed with a revolver and dynamite stick he ordered cockpit crew to divert flight to India. The flight captain told the hijacker that the aircraft did not have enough fuel for flight to India and it could land at Karachi only.

PIA Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 400

Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 400  (Abbas Ali Collection)

Hijacked AP-ALW sitting on aircraft parking bay number 17 at Karachi Airport on January 20, 1978

Karachi Airport was informed about hijacking at 10:30 AM and the hijacked Fokker landed at that airport at 10:55 AM. The aircraft was parked on bay number 17 some distance away from terminal building of the airport. The aircraft was surrounded by security personnel including some who hid themselves in bushes near the parking bay.

PIA Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 400

Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 400  (Abbas Ali Collection)

Hijacked AP-ALW sitting on aircraft parking bay number 17 at Karachi Airport on January 20, 1978

The first person to contact the hijacker was Chairman PIA Air Marshal (Retd) Malik Nur Khan who went up to the aircraft and communicated with hijacker through opened cockpit window. The hijacker said that he was suffering from cancer and demanded 10 million Pakistan rupees and 1 million US dollars both in cash for the release of passengers and crew. The hijacker said he needed this money to enjoy last days of his life cut short by cancer. During negotiations Nur Khan told the hijacker that PIA can make arrangements for treating his disease. Nur Khan also offered himself to be kept as hostage in the aircraft in exchange for the release of passengers and crew. The hijacker rejected those offers.

PIA Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 400

Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 400  (Abbas Ali Collection)

Hijacked AP-ALW sitting on aircraft parking bay number 17 at Karachi Airport on January 20, 1978

The hijacker set a deadline to blast the aircraft along with hostages by 3:00 PM. The authorities informed the hijacker that banks were closed because it was Friday - a weekly holiday in Pakistan at that time - so it was not possible to arrange cash money demanded by him.

In the evening, the hijacker allowed supply of food and water for hostages in the aircraft. By the start of night time, a total of 14 passengers and an air hostess had been freed by the hijacker. The hijacker released them at different times. The first of them - a woman - was freed around 12:00 PM.

PIA Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 400

Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 400  (Abbas Ali Collection)

Hijacked AP-ALW sitting on aircraft parking bay number 17 at Karachi Airport on January 20, 1978

The hijacker sent a message to authorities that he wanted to talk to some important person. In response, Nur Khan accompanied by a Pakistan Army officer came closer to the aircraft. The hijacker allowed Nur Khan to enter the aircraft around 11:50 PM. After nearly an hour of talks, around 12:50 AM Nur Khan attempted to snatch revolver from the hijacker in close confines of F27 cabin. In the ensuing struggle, Nur Khan was shot in the side at point-blank range by the hijacker. By that time, Nur Khan was on top of the hijacker, who was then overpowered by the crew of F27.

Chairman PIA Malik Nur Khan

Chairman PIA Malik Nur Khan  (Abbas Ali Collection)

Chairman PIA Air Marshal (Retd) Malik Nur Khan recovering from bullet wound at Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Shifa hospital in Karachi. The bullet fired by hijacker had got lodged about a centimeter from Nur Khan's spine

Nur Khan recovered rapidly from his dangerous wound, and had the distinction of adding the Hilal-e-Shujaat - Pakistan's highest civil award - to the Hilal-e-Jur'at which he had been awarded after the 1965 Pakistan-India war during which he led Pakistan Air Force. Nur Khan is the only Pakistani citizen to have been awarded both these decorations.

The arrested hijacker was identified as Nazir hailing from Mianwali, Pakistan.


Cockpit crew of hijacked PIA Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 400 (AP-ALW):

Cockpit Crew:
Captain Khaldoon Ghani
First Officer Kadir Gabol



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