As confusion reigns, Bhoja Air’s majority stakeholder placed on ECL

Published: April 23, 2012

Relatives mourn next to a coffin of a passenger killed in the Bhoja Air accident, during a funeral in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: While Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed reports that Arshad Jalil, who is currently in China, is the majority stakeholder of Bhoja Air, confusion reigned as a number of different investigation teams popped up to investigate Friday’s fatal air crash.

The interior minister also confirmed that Farooq Bhoja, previously considered to be the airline’s owner, actually owns only 5% of the shares. Jalil, his wife, and his son Umer hold 40, 20 and 20 per cent shares, respectively.

The Jalil family as well as Bhoja and two others have been named on the Exit Control List (ECL).

“We have written to Jalil to return to Pakistan and become a part of investigations,” said Malik, speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting in Islamabad.

However, he said nothing in response to a question about the government’s action in case Jalil refuses to return voluntarily amidst pressure for compensating the families of victims, although according to sources, Jalil has reassured Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) authorities that he will return to Pakistan within two days.

Sources added that the FIA is preparing questions for the Bhoja Air owner in this regard.

Meanwhile, the Karachi division of the FIA released Farooq Bhoja after questioning. Jalil’s son, Umer, was also questioned by the FIA at the Bhoja Air office. Airline records were taken from the office by the agency in his presence.

Overlapping teams?

On the other hand, a four-member inquiry team of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), headed by Group Captain (retd) Mujahidul Islam, was absent from the crash site on Sunday.

Instead, another nine-member team, headed by Group Captain (retd) Sardar Muhammad Ilyas, examined the plane’s wreckage. Ilyas is a member of CAA’s Safety and Investigation Board and was previously involved in the technical investigation of the 2010 Airblue crash on Margalla Hills.

“He is currently in the airworthiness examination side and would have visited the site for checking exactly that,” said an unnamed CAA official.

Previously, his appointment in the Safety and Investigation Board was challenged in the Sindh High Court (SHC) in February 2011, as he allegedly lacked the requisite qualification for the post.

A Koral police official said the nine-member team stayed at the site for over two hours and examined the wreckage. The official told The Express Tribune that the voice recorder of the plane was handed over to aviation officials after its recovery on Saturday.

Confusion, however, was apparent – while CAA spokesperson Pervez George said different experts could visit the site, he was uncertain who the inquiry committee had permitted to visit the site and assist. In addition to this overlap, a police team was conducting its own inquiry. A police official said they were collecting evidence from the area where the plane’s wreckage was scattered.

Another inquiry team, a judicial commission, has also been formed under the former Lahore High Court chief justice Zahid Hussain Bukhari.

“The inquiry findings will be made public and no aspect will be missed,” said Interior Minister Malik in his press conference, insisting that the overall probe into the incident was going along smoothly.

However, some CAA officials close to the inquiry said too many probes by different people would only confuse the investigation process.

‘Don’t blame govt’

The interior minister also defended the government, saying it was wrong to accuse it of involvement with the Bhoja Air administration as the company was issued a licence in 1992 under Nawaz Sharif’s government.

The airline was allowed to operate with only three planes at the time, said Malik. Based on the rules set then, the airline challenged its services’ suspension in 2001 in the court, he added. He insisted the airline’s services were resumed only after all necessary standards were met.

Meanwhile FIA authorities said that the ongoing investigation is focused on fact finding only as of now, as a criminal investigation cannot start till the report of the technical investigation is ready.

(Read: Another airline crash)

(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM ADIL JAWAD IN KARACHI)

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2012.

Reader Comments (11)

  • kala_bacha
    Apr 23, 2012 - 6:47AM

    Don’t expect a single dime of report from this government and committees. This is the most corrupt and incompetent government I have seen. It took ages to bring air blue report and in the end even the lay person knows what was the cause of the crash.

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  • Safaid_Ma
    Apr 23, 2012 - 8:26AM

    @kala_bacha:
    Pray Son . . . please enlighten us non-lay persons as to what the cause of the crash was because some of us still can’t see past the wool this government of the (crooked) people has laid before us.

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  • Sharjeel Jawaid, Karachi, Pakistan
    Apr 23, 2012 - 8:34AM

    Looking at the statement from our Interior Minister, we may soon be blaming the Wright Brothers for the Bhoja Air Crash!

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  • unknown
    Apr 23, 2012 - 9:25AM

    BTW, what was AB crash reason… Im’ Curious ..

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    Apr 23, 2012 - 9:37AM

    Pathetic. The Government that permitted the creation of Bhoja Air, CAA that certified the aircraft and their airworthiness, did not know the structure of the airline??? Our knowledge of shady Jalil and family as well as the shady judicial commission announce by the PPP is to cover their tracks of corruption and underhand dealings with all private airline managers. I can tell you hair raising stories of how CAA is manipulating the truth. Its the same incompetent ex-PIA CEO that is running CAA to disastrous effect. Yousafzai tried to influence the findings of the cause of the crash by suggesting it was a pilot error, even before the Black Box and Flight voice recorder had been opened.

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  • Saqlain
    Apr 23, 2012 - 9:54AM

    ridiculous reporting! media really has to mature in Pakistan, instead of getting into a frenzy first check the facts. Firstly everybody was reporting that Farooq Bhoja was the main player, incorrect from day one.

    Secondly Mr Jalil is in Pakistan and has been since yesterday. very poor reporting ET!

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    Apr 23, 2012 - 10:26AM

    @Sharjeel Jawaid, Karachi, Pakistan:
    Wright Brothers are not known for a crash but for having flown the first man made aircraft on December 17,1903 for 12 seconds.

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  • Rana Ajmal
    Apr 23, 2012 - 11:55AM

    Farooq Bhoja is the grandson of (Quaid-a-Azam) Mohd. Ali Jinnah & poor guy is dragged in FIA offices, when he also lost his young son few years ago, who was killed by those who kidnapped him for huge ransom. People blame agencies for kidnapping him & than killing him.

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  • Mo Sheikh
    Apr 23, 2012 - 3:29PM

    Arshad Jalil will not come back to Pakistan so easily. The easiest thing to do (which I’m sure will pinch Mr. Jalil should he decide not to come back) is to block his family’s accounts here in Pakistan…… ouch!!

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  • bhoja air fan
    Apr 24, 2012 - 4:18PM

    *people bhoja air is here to stay . all the flights are flying on schedule. yes investigation has to be conducted over this incident but i am sure the final report will confirm that this incident happened because of bad weather . The people running Bhoja air are honest, humble and brave Pakistanis. all they wanted was to provide Pakistanis air travel services at the lowest cost possible. May Allah help them in the fulfillment of their objective.
    FOR THOSE WHO LOVE TO FLY
    *

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  • Apr 25, 2012 - 11:53AM

    The primary cause of the accident was bad weather. CB clouds and a microburst was on the finals flight path. The pilot exercised stupid judgement in flying below all this to land. Arshad Jalil is a wheeler dealer, he should be locked up for his many sins. Recommend

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