Smelly welcome: Toilets at Islamabad airport take fun out of travel

Published: January 19, 2014
CAA spokesperson blames large number of visitors. PHOTO: FILE

CAA spokesperson blames large number of visitors. PHOTO: FILE


The first thing you notice when you land in a foreign country is its airport. While it might not offer state-of-the-art facilities, visitors are justified in expecting that at least the toilets would be functional.  Unfortunately, at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport, which services the twin cities, visitors are taken aback by the condition of the toilets.

The lack of facilities is tarnishing the country’s image as dirty toilets are creating problems for passengers and their relatives.

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Even though the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which is supposed to manage the airport has sufficient budget to provide facilities to the public, it seems to have little interest in improving its condition.

There are six toilets for the public and airport staff but all of them were overflowing with wet toilet paper spread across the floors. The toilets in the parking lot of the airport are especially messy.

“Airports are the face of a country, but unfortunately the CAA is projecting a dirty picture across the globe. Often foreigners who wish to use the facility, step back after seeing the toilets’ condition,” said a security officer, who wished not to be named. “Due to the disgusting mess inside, you cannot keep your clothes from getting dirty.”

Rahim Khan, who had come from Rawalakot to receive his son, coming from London, said it was unfortunate that the CAA has failed to provide clean toilets to passengers and their relatives. “If CAA cannot maintain public toilets, how can it be expected to provide better facilities to passengers,” he questioned.

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Women were particularly vocal in criticising the CAA for the dirty condition of toilets. Interestingly, the CAA is charging Rs20 as entry fee from everyone entering the airport, excluding passengers. The fee levied on relatives and friends accompanying passengers is collected through a private company.

A couple of months back, Justice Ijaz Ahmed of the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench had declared this practice illegal, but CAA had the order of the single bench suspended on appeal.

“Every day we deposit Rs100,000 with the CAA after collecting entry fee from visitors,” said Abbas Ali, supervisor of the private company responsible for collecting the entry fee.

A visitor, Kamran Mehfooz said it was unjust that the CAA was collecting millions of rupees from the public but had failed to provide basic facilities to visitors. “CAA should spend at least a few thousand to clean up the mess which is tarnishing the country’s image, he added.

CAA Spokesman Mubarik Shah blamed drivers of private companies and the huge number of visitors for the filthy public toilets, perhaps neglecting the fact that the airport welcomes a low volume of air traffic compared to those at Karachi and Lahore. He, however, claimed that in the next few days, the CAA would resolve the issue.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Uzair
    Jan 19, 2014 - 2:13PM

    Hah! The entire airport ITSELF is a toilet. That’s the first impression that strikes one after flying in from virtually any other airport in the world. The immigration area and baggage claim look like they have barely survived a WW2 style aerial bombing. When departing via the airpot it gets worse, the checkin lounge is way too small and if there are more than 2 flights being checked in absolutely chaos reigns.

    Its absolutely high time the new airport was built to server Islamabad. The existing airport is a total disgrace when one considers this is the first impression foreign visitors (mostly diplomatic staff given our penchant for murdering tourists) get.


  • Sentiment
    Jan 19, 2014 - 3:27PM

    At least it is better than filthy indian airports. I visited one last month and believe me our airports are much better than theirs.


  • Ghufran Khan
    Jan 19, 2014 - 4:13PM

    Its a pity…!!! CAA must resolve the issue as soon as possible as I have personally experienced the same at Islamabad airport so Mr. Abbassi I second you. Situation at Lahore and Karachi airports are little better but still need improvement.


  • confused
    Jan 19, 2014 - 5:18PM

    Hahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah, one should laugh or cry, one doesn’t know !!!


  • Waleed
    Jan 19, 2014 - 6:05PM

    Really Unfortunate!! Similar are the conditions at Allama Iqbal International, Lahore Airport….the stench can blow your mind off….and there is no soap….best suggestion would be to use liquid soap. I have been to a few international airports and there are janitors deployed around the clock to take care of cleanliness. If not around the clock CAA can consider getting the washrooms cleaned thrice a day atleast.


  • Hayat
    Jan 19, 2014 - 8:07PM

    I felt the same way, once I landed at Islamabad Airport in Ramadan last year. I registered my complaint with CAA but the supervisor was of the view that, you know it is Ramadan and our staff does not feel like working. :) Looks like they always have some excuse for not doing their job.


  • AJ
    Jan 19, 2014 - 11:06PM

    They had made the whole terminal quite new and impressive during Musharraf’s days, including new toilets. Then PPP happened, democracy returned and they shifted the toilets back to the dirty, old ones outside parking, this time charging an entry fee to it! Revenge is smelly, and people deserve every bit of it.Recommend

  • Jan 19, 2014 - 11:47PM

    My grandfather used to say that in the 1960s70s the airports were ‘spanking clean’ as it was to show the world the ‘door’ to Pakistan – and look at the door now :(


  • forgerator
    Jan 20, 2014 - 1:05AM

    Guys, there’s a reason Pakistani airport toilets (and in fact all toilets in the Muslim world) stink to high heaven. The root cause is the lota / muslim shower system and the plumbing needed to support it.

    Fix the plumbing architecture and no more smell I guarantee.


  • Jim Bo
    Jan 20, 2014 - 3:31AM

    I am a proud Pakistani, living in the US. During a recent visit to Pakistan and while flying out of Islamabad Airport towards the Northern Areas, I was disgusted to see the condition of the toilets (as has beeen mentioned in prior responses). Its unconscionable that human extreta could be left unattended.
    I’m puzzled that this state of affairs should not be even brought up in the media, when the CAA is the regulatory body overseeing the maintenance and no one from them has responded to this news. If disciple, in form of strict action was the everyday norm, this would not happen to begin with. Taking cue from western airports (such as in this discussion), the regulatory company would be immediately fired. If this sort of discipline became our everyday norm, issues such as this would never come up. In place where bribery is prevalent, this will continue. This may not reflect the Pakistani people at large, but when these same people do not fight for their rights, those abusing the privileges or contract, will continue to let it go to extremes.


  • fahim
    Jan 20, 2014 - 4:13AM

    @sentinent: 2 of Indian airports appear in the top 5 across world rating (Delhi, Hyderabad) while 3 others in top 15 of the world in their respective categories. Check internatinal ratings before you start spitting… its people like you who has made our country what we are today. People like you should atleast come out of madrasa and look around the changing world.


  • Poor Indian
    Jan 20, 2014 - 9:52AM

    @sentiment- not sure which Indian airports you are referring to.

    If there is one aspect of life for Indians that has improved dramatically and noticeably, it is the quality of the airports. This applies not only to airports in metropolis cities but also for smaller airports. Notwithstanding this, you can take heart from the fact that if India can do it, so can Pakistan – maybe even better.


  • kols
    Jan 20, 2014 - 12:07PM


    just wait for the spanking new Mumbai T2 opening next week
    google it.

    i think indian airports are the best in the world tight now.


  • sharabi
    Jan 20, 2014 - 2:53PM

    which one dude?
    Ever heard of IGI T3? JUST GOOGLE ITRecommend

  • Rex Minor
    Jan 20, 2014 - 3:43PM

    And how do the Pakistani muslims manage to clean themselves five times a day, which they must to practice their religion? cleanliness is Godliness and what we have today in Europe is due to what the Arabs brought to Andalus!

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • nadeem
    Jan 20, 2014 - 3:47PM


    Then PPP happened, democracy returned

    You mean your favorite mughal dictator signed the NRO (treasonous crime) to save his ‘kursi’Recommend

  • Airport
    Jan 20, 2014 - 10:13PM

    And here comes Madarassa illiterate delusion Paki..clap clap.LOL
    New Delhi and Hyderabad airport in India are among the world’s top airports. Get your facts right kid!
    Btw did you produced your Polio Free certificate before entering India?…LMAO Recommend

  • Manish
    Jan 20, 2014 - 10:22PM

    @Sentiment: I can understand your habit of talking about India everytime there is pakistan’s criticism. We send rovers to mars you talk of toilets in India. We talk of Economic development you talk of slums. I dont blame your country for being in the situation it is right now because of people like you who are not willing to introspect but are happy as long as India has problems. Btw Which Indian airport ? i can assure you if not anything then atleast our airports are nice. 2 of them in top 5 all over world, more in top 15 and please try and look for photos of Mumbai T2 terminal which will start in about a month. Please also learn from people in your country who are sensible.Recommend

  • Commonsense
    Jan 21, 2014 - 3:46AM

    @ endians
    endians have a big ego! So big that they go great lengths to twist facts and project some sort of imagined superiority! I mean its quite logical what after all these years of caste racism and oppression at the hands of mughals and “goras”. So these ppl found a national pass time in off loading that baggage on us to feel like a “white man”.
    Well none of d endian airports rank anywhere in top 20 as you ppl claim. infact hyderbad is ranked 65th! and delhi is 69th. lol exposed huh?

    When the poor in your country dont have basic amenities, to spend a fortune on airport infra is preposterous. Its like telling the poor to eat cake! All it does is bloat the egos of these online endians and gives them bragging rights.

    ET: Great job! Hope CAA takes notice and fixes those minor irritants.


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