The Airport Fight and the Train Fire Massacre – Were the responsible people punished?

Fight between passengers and ASF at Islamabad International Airport

A video went viral on twitter and other social media platforms in the last week showed a brawl between Airport Security Force (ASF) officials and some passengers. The passengers were travelling from Jeddah to Peshawar on October 18, 2019 through PIA flight PK – 728 when they were forced to land at Islamabad International Airport because of bad weather conditions.

Fight between ASF official and passengers and Islamabad International Airport

The passengers grew impatient after they had to wait for over an hour without any refreshments. According to different media channels who investigated the incident, the passengers started damaging the property in the VIP lounge. This is when the ASF arrived at the scene to control the situation, however they only made it worse. As seen in the video, the ASF and passengers got involved in a fight and abusive language was being used from both sides.

An official of the ASF can be seen to have lost control and is trying to get at the passengers, however other officials successfully guided him up the stairs away from the crowd. The official then spat at the passengers and threw a chair at them from the stairs.

Prime Minister takes action regarding the incident

As soon as the Prime Minister became aware of the news, he suspended the managerial staff. The news of the Prime Minister suspending the staff surfaced on 30th October, 2019, almost 12 days after the incident. The staff suspended includes Airport Manager Tahir Sikandar and Duty Terminal Managers (DTMs) Zaheer and Malik Akram. Disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against the mentioned personnel while the ASF has set up a board of inquiry against the ASF officials. No news of their suspension has surfaced till now.

Were the real culprits punished?

After explaining the facts above from credible media channels, I would just like to put forth a single question, were the responsible people actually punished? Have responsible people ever been punished in Pakistan? Only the innocent and powerless people take the fall for the crimes and mistakes of the real culprits. Tahir Sikandar claims that he was not informed of the fight that happened between the passengers and ASF officials. Did Tahir Sikandar order these men to make a mess of the situation or did he hire them? Does he even have the authority to suspend the ASF officials who work under the Pakistan Army? While the managers were suspended, why hasn’t swift action been taken against the officials who actually made a mess of the situation?  

The Train Fire Massacre

If you don’t believe me, let’s look at a more recent incident. We just witnessed one the most horrific incidents in the history of Pakistan where more than 70 people have lost their lives. The train fire that took the lives of 73 people (as of 1st November) and left 40 injured including women and children. Many of these injured people are in critical condition.

Train fire massacre
Train Fire Massacre

74 people died in the deadly fire

According to the official news, the fire was caused by cylinders being carried by passengers. The passengers started cooking breakfast on these cylinders in the morning when the fire broke out. People started jumping off the train to save their lives, however only a few could save themselves. Others burned in the devastating fire. The survivors of the train wreck claim that the emergency chains (the chains when pulled, bring the train to an emergency halt) of the train were not working. The train carried on with its normal speed, as a result the wind added fuel to the fire. According to the people, there were also no fire extinguishers present on the train.

Compensation for the victims

Our railway minister, Sheikh Rasheed announced a compensation for the victims of the train fire massacre. According to him, Rs 15 lacs (1.5 million) will be given to the families of those who died while Rs 5 lacs (500,000) will be given to those who are injured.

Sheikh Rasheed also denied the fact that the emergency pull chains were not working. He said that the train came to a halt after the chain had been pulled. He also confirmed that the fire was caused by the cylinders and denied the theories that it may have been caused by electrical malfunction. People have put immense pressure on him to resign, however he remains firm and says he will talk about it on Sunday.

Sheikh Rasheed’s video massage after the train fire massacre

Now I may not be fan of jalsas and everything, I remember very clearly that the same people who are ruling this government said that even if there is one train accident during a party’s rule, the concerned party should resign from the government. Let’s even leave that, as I am not here to defend any political party. THE POINT HERE IS that why isn’t anyone suspended yet?

Why hasn’t anyone resigned? Because the ones responsible have power? Have money? Is this the justice we get? You can literally just go up and pay for someone’s lost lives? Are they finding an innocent and weak person to take the fall for their actions? Are they going to hang a security guard for not checking the cylinders or jail the train staff for being irresponsible? We cannot turn a blind eye towards what happened. These were 74 lives and I am sorry to say that they cannot be bought. Not for 1.5 million, not for 15 million.

Apprehend the real criminals!

We all have loved ones, we wouldn’t want them to take fall for the things they haven’t done and wouldn’t want people to put a price tag on them and think justice has been done. Both these cases may entirely be different, but in both cases the citizens of Pakistan are suffering while the higher rank officials decide who to blame and what card to play. We will only progress as a nation when put aside our own personal agendas and be united for once. This isn’t about being from PTI or PMLN or PPP, this about being a Pakistani. Until we stop following our rulers blindly we can never progress. Hence, they should know that if they do something wrong, we will deny them and we will not try to justify their actions.

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