LAHORE: Influential people continue to get VIP protocol unofficially at Allama Iqbal International Aiport in Lahore despite the ban imposed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, Pakistan Today has learned.
According to the impeccable sources in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), it is true that all kinds of protocol accorded to VIPs at the Lahore airport had been stopped but the VIPs continue to get protocols through porters of (CAA), different airlines and through other means.
“They (VIPs) get porters unofficially who carry their luggage, baggage and other things and serve them as their personal servants. They pay them money for their service and this trend has gone unchecked. CAA officials are providing porters to VIPs,” sources said.
Sources further said that had there been a proper mechanism, this menace would have ended long ago.
“Elderly persons or women in need of their service usually used to approach the CAA information counter and ask for porters. CAA’s concerned officials used to arrange the facility after assessing the condition of the passenger(s). But the situation is opposite right now and VIPs are getting porters,” sources claimed.
When contacted, CAA central spokesman Pervaiz George referred to CAA spokesman at Allama Iqbal International Airport Kamran Malik who refused to comment on the situation, saying that he had been asked by the CAA headquarters not to comment on these situations.
However, when Pervaiz Malik’s attention was drawn to the situation, he agreed to give CAA’s version on the issue and rejected the impression that VIPs were still getting protocol.
“I have personally checked the situation and no protocol is being given to the VIPs at any airport. In fact, some passengers hire services of porters for facilitation. It is an international practice that the airports have facilitation counters for passengers. The passengers are availing this facility only,” he said.
FIA Additional Director Immigration Imran Ahmar said that FIA is implementing the ban in its true spirit. “No protocol is being accorded to VIPs at immigration counters. The FIA area is clear of protocol.”
The PTI government, soon after coming into power, banned VIP protocol given by the FIA to influential people at airports and directed the Ministry of Interior to convey all concerned officials of the FIA’s immigration wing to implement it.
It is worth mentioning that such decisions had also been taken by previous governments too but they could never implement them in letter and spirit.
Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the government has decided to strictly implement the decision to provide equal opportunities to all travellers without any discrimination.