Wednesday, 29 May 2013

PIA's foiled 'bomb plot' was really a tantrum

On Friday, a Pakistan International Airlines flight was diverted to London after a feared 'terrorist' threat. 

The flight had originally been scheduled to fly from Lahore to Manchester, but British fighter jets escorted the plane to Stansted after an altercation between two passengers. When PIA cabin crew intervened in the row, the irate passengers made a threat which was considered serious enough to report to the pilot. The flight was diverted and Essex police arrested the two men. 

According to a New Religion source, the PIA staff didn't actually believe the men were terrorists or that they intended to carry out their threats. The staff simply - and rightly - followed protocol. Interestingly, once the flight had landed it was delayed for a further 18 hours and - perhaps unsurprisingly considering what they had just witnessed - not a single one of the remaining passengers complained about the delay.  

All of which reminded me of a story a friend told me a few years ago. He had been flying from Lahore to the UK when it was announced the flight would be delayed for a number of hours. An angry passenger reacted by making a vicious threat and demanding the plane take off within an hour, which it did. 

The key difference between the two events appears to be the level of trust PIA staff had in the respective authorities. In Pakistan they had no confidence in the local police - who are often notorious for pandering to extremists - and so they simply gave in. In the UK, the staff reported the incident, the suspects were apprehended and the remaining passengers ensured their behavior was now exemplary. Taken as a microcosm of the problems currently facing Pakistan, the two stories offer hope; if only the ruling authorities will uphold the rule of law, Pakistani society can gain confidence and improve. @Taalay

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