Asia

Pakistan Rehman Malik: Passengers force ex-minister off plane

  • 16 September 2014
  • From the section Asia
Rehman Malik Image copyright AP
Image caption Former Interior Minister Rehman Malik had to find another way to get to Islamabad

A group of irate passengers prevented a top Pakistani politician from boarding a flight, after they were kept on board for two hours until he arrived.

It is not clear why former Interior Minister Rehman Malik and another politician were so late to turn up.

But the passengers were so incensed a scheduled flight was kept waiting for the politicians, they forced them back.

Footage shows Mr Malik confronted by jeering passengers who shout: "You should be ashamed of yourself".

"150 passengers have been put out because of you," they continued, demanding an apology and bemoaning the state of the nation.

"We've taken it for 68 years. Are we going to take it another 68?" one is heard saying in despair.

The other politician, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a member of the ruling PML-N party, was also turned back by passengers.

Monday night's Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight from Karachi to Islamabad eventually took off without the two men.

Mr Malik, who blamed the delay on PIA on his Twitter feed, appears to remonstrate but his comments are barely audible as they are drowned out by the furious passengers.


Analysis: Nosheen Abbas, BBC Urdu, Islamabad

Pakistan's social media is ablaze with talk of VIP culture, and with anger and frustration being vented against Mr Malik.

It is all about the assumptions that VIPs have the right to hold up flights, skip queues and cause traffic jams - and the public just has to suffer.

Two years ago a report that a woman had to give birth in a car because roads had been cleared to make way for a VIP sparked anger. Some even allege that people have died on their way to hospitals because of this.

The frustration was palpable among ordinary Pakistanis I spoke to today.

"I think it is very good what happened to Rehman Malik," one person told me. Another pointed out: "Now when someone gets money they instantly hire guards to protect them - it's all just for show to get good treatment. The traffic, police, army, everyone accommodates them."

Some appeared resigned to the way the things are: "Pakistan seems like it's only made for VIPs - it's a VIP country."


Pakistanis are sharing the video on social networks and hailing the passengers who took action, and the incident has re-ignited a debate on "VIP culture" in Pakistan.

PIA told the Dawn newspaper the flight had been delayed for 90 minutes due to a technical issue and said passengers had received text messages about the delay.

The airline added that it had suspended two employees for causing a further "unnecessary delay". It insisted that it does not promote "VIP culture".

An aide to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that on top of the technical delay of 90 minutes, the aircraft had been held up for a further 25 minutes because Mr Malik was late, AFP reports.

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