• Saturday, May 25, 2024


PIA flight diverted to help Sharif, other VIPs disembark

The flight from Jeddah was supposed to land in Islamabad, but was diverted to Lahore, where Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and others VIPs disembarked

File photo of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

By: Shajil Kumar

An Islamabad-bound PIA flight carrying Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, and a high-level delegation returning from Saudi Arabia was diverted to Lahore to offload the VIPs, causing inconvenience to other passengers, according to a media report.

Interestingly, the incident came close on the heels of Prime Minister Sharif recently declaring a ban on the red carpet at events in his favour, which earned accolades for signalling a shift towards eradicating the VIP culture.

Quoting a PIA spokesperson, the Dawn newspaper reported that the Jeddah to Islamabad flight was diverted on Monday. The flight PK842 carrying 393 passengers, which was supposed to land in Islamabad at 10:30 pm, was diverted and landed at Lahore airport at 9:25 pm, the report said.

The Prime Minister, the Chief Minister and other VIPs disembarked at Lahore, which caused inconvenience to hundreds of other Islamabad-bound passengers, the report said, quoting sources.

Official sources said the commercial flight from Jeddah to Islamabad carried the official Pakistani delegation returning from Saudi Arabia. Apart from Sharif and Maryam, the delegation included Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and others, along with their family members.

Videos circulating on social media showed passengers expressing their anger, but they had no other option but to wait until the VIPs disembarked before continuing their journey to Islamabad.

After offloading about 79 passengers, the flight eventually took off for Islamabad and landed at 11:17 pm instead of 10:30 pm.

Prime Minister Sharif was in Saudi Arabia on his first foreign visit after assuming charge last month. (PTI)

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