Political rift over plane crash probe invites criticism
ISLAMABAD A PAKISTANI daily has described as “agonising” the political rift over the probe into an aircrash that left 127 people dead.
The Bhoja Air 737, on its maiden flight, went down on Friday in stormy weather and burst into flames in Islamabad. An editorial in the Daily Times said that the latest plane crash “is a bitter reminder of the deadly crash of the Air Blue plane, which occurred only two years ago in the same city”.
One of the worst aviation tragedies in Pakistan took place in July 2010 when an Airbus 321 passenger jet operated by the private airline Airblue crashed into the hills overlooking Islamabad while coming in to land after a flight from Karachi.
All 152 people on board were killed in the accident.
The daily said that now “better sense seems to have finally prevailed as Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar has announced that all the aircraft of private airlines will be inspected thoroughly one by one”.
“However, the statement came after two more aircraft of another private airline narrowly escaped tragedy Sunday. The government has set up a judicial commission comprising two judges and a retired officer to hold an inquiry into Friday’s plane crash...,” it said.
The editorial, however, added: “...what is agonising is the political rift that has started between the government and the main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) over the constitution of the judicial commission to probe the affair”. The PML-N has opposed the commission on the pretext that the chief justice of the Supreme Court has not been consulted.
“At this hour of grief and sadness, the PML-N is expected to behave maturely.
It is certainly a bad time to manipulate this issue for political point scoring,” said the daily.
In the meantime, aviation authorities began an inspection of all passenger planes operated by private airlines after a near-miss in Karachi that came just two days after a fatal crash in Islamabad.
“The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) launched a comprehensive inspection of airplanes being flown by private Pakistani airlines, from today,” CAA spokesman Pervez George told AFP.
The CAA has already received a plane from Bhoja Air for so-called “shakedown” checks by engineers, George said. He refused to give any timeline for completion of the process, saying “it is difficult to say how much time the inspectors will take to examine each plane and all its systems”.
“We have asked all the private airlines to reschedule their domestic and international flights during the inspection so the passengers do not have to suffer,” he added.
Inspection work will begin with Bhoja Air planes before moving on to Pakistan’s other two private airlines Shaheen and Airblue.