Families of PK-661 crash set to go to court after ‘harassment’ by PIA

  • ‘A number of families yet to receive their flight insurance from PIA’

LAHORE: Citing complaints ranging from harassment at the hands of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) officials, non-payment of flight insurance, and mixed reports on the cause of the fatal accident, the families of those that lost their lives in last year’s PK-661 crash have demanded the immediate release of the incident’s investigative report.

The families held a press conference on the day of the one-year anniversary of the ill-fated PK-661 flight—which was also coincidentally the International Civil Aviation Day. The plane had crashed soon after it took off from Chitral and became even more of a media sensation than it would have after it was discovered that singer-turned-evangelist Junaid Jamshed had also perished on the same flight.

According to details, the families of the deceased persons are about to take legal action by filing a right to information request to have the inquiry report released after getting mixed statements from the PIA regarding what caused the disaster.

“Sometimes they tell us that the crew on board was ‘poisoned’. Sometimes they say it was a technical difficulty. All we want is some closure, but they refuse to let us have it,” they complained in their official press statement.

Furthermore, Shah Fahad Lal—who is representing the families and also lost his sister in the incident—told Pakistan Today that a number of families are yet to receive their flight insurance from the PIA.

“This is not even compensation that the government is providing. This is simply the flight insurance that we are legally owed,  yet they have still not given many families that,” he said.

He went on to say that PIA officials that they had been told to contact in Karachi were harassing a number of families, especially those that were now not financially stable after losing the breadwinner of their homes.

“The PIA officials are abusing these people. They are abusing grieving widows, orphans and siblings. They have no shame at all; they refused to even acknowledge the family of one Christian passenger that perished on the flight,” he added.

Meanwhile, PIA spokesperson Athar Hasan told Pakistan Today that they were committed to helping the families and had paid Rs 500,000 compensation to them. They also said that an inquiry being conducted by Safety Investigation Board, an independent and autonomous agency carries out its functions without any outside influence, is still underway and that the report will be released soon.

However, the protesting family members said that they should at least not be given mixed narratives and deserve to be given answers. The spokesperson also pleaded ignorance on the alleged mistreatment of families at the hand of airline officials.

Shah Fahad went on to say that while the compensation is important for many of the families, as they are now facing a financial crunch, all of them would just be content with being treated with some dignity.

“No official person has even come to express his condolences to us. I know that Junaid Jamshed was also on that flight and he was a national hero, but we would at least like to be acknowledged,” he concluded.