ISLAMABAD: Amid fears of international isolation and recent incidents at major international airports in Pakistan, the government has tasked the Army to ensure security at these airstrips, a top aviation official said on Saturday.
Talking to reporters, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Aviation Shujaat Azeem, said the army and Rangers will be providing security at landing areas and main installations of Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar airports.
These airports, located inside or very close to densely populated areas, had been classified as vulnerable to threats.
On June 8, militants launched a brazen attack on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi leaving at least 29 dead.
Two weeks later, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane came under fire while landing at the Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar. A female passenger aboard the aircraft was killed and two crew members were injured prompting major international airlines to suspended their operations in Peshawar.
“Pakistan army will secure a funnel area and important installations at these four airports” Azeem said.
He said the Pakistan Rangers and Airport Security Force (ASF) will also be part of the security cordon under the comprehensive plan prepared in consultation with army corps commanders.
Under normal circumstances, ASF looks after the security of airports in the country. Security agencies have already reported that major airports could come under attack from militants. After the recent attacks and in the wake of the military operation in the militant’s bastions in North Waziristan, security is being enhanced in the country’s airports.
Azeem said he had talked to the CEOs of Emirates, Saudi and Qatar airlines to resume their services for Peshawar. “We have requested them to resume their service in the day time” he said.
Analysts fear that Pakistan can face international isolation in case it failed to stop brazen attacks at its airports.
The PIA aircraft that had come under attack earlier this week at Peshawar airport is operational now and has rejoined the fleet, he said, adding that it was repaired locally.
New Aircraft added
National flag carrier PIA has added A-320, a narrow body aircraft in its fleet. Azeem said two other similar planes will be inducted within two to three months.
PIA is replacing its old fleet with newer crafts on a dry lease, and it plans to induct a few more ATRs for domestic routes.
Azeem believes that among other reasons, one main reason of PIA’s losses was its use of the wrong aircraft for short distance routes and an aged fleet that consumed lot of fuel.
He hoped that by replacing the Boeing 777s with smaller and narrow body planes on domestic routes and medium range international routes will help the airline. The 777s will now be used for longer intercontinental routes, he added.
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