ISLAMABAD: Iraqi security officials and airline staff mistreated and manhandled Pakistani pilgrims onboard a Karachi-bound flight at the Baghdad airport for protesting and refusing to continue their journey without the air conditioning system being fixed.
At least three passengers were injured in the incident while one was taken into custody on Sunday, sources told The Express Tribune.
All 120 travellers were later brought back safely to Karachi following the efforts of Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Development Zulfi Bukhari, who directed Pakistan’s Ambassador in Iraq Sajid Bilal to take immediate notice of the matter.
The arrested passenger was released and the injured were given medical support upon action by the ambassador. The injured passengers were also paid compensation by the Iraqi government.
An hour into the flight scheduled to depart on June 9, the aircraft’s air conditioning system malfunctioned, causing a lack of ventilation. Health of several passengers deteriorated, consequently.
Fellow passengers protested against the airline’s staff when they paid no heed to their complaints. The pilot then turned back and landed the plane at the Baghdad airport.
Police and other security personnel stationed at the airport manhandled the protesters on the crew’s complaint.
However, due to the timely intervention of the Pakistani envoy, the matter was resolved and arrangements made for the passengers’ return.