In Pakistan, "VIP culture" routinely delays commercial flights to accommodate the schedule of politicians. On Monday, fury boiled over when a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight from Karachi to Islamabad was delayed for almost two and half hours.
A Karachi-to-Islamabad PIA flight had been waiting for two and a half hours on the tarmac at Jinnah International Airport. The reason was that it was waiting for some ‘VIPs’ to arrive, and when they did arrive they turned out to be Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Rehman Malik and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani.tribune.com.pk
When the two members of Parliament arrived at the door of the plane, angry passengers barred their way accusing them of delaying their flight and making 250 passengers wait. Both the VIPs were then forced to retreat amidst humiliating slogans.
Fuming travellers had been waiting in their seats when Rehman Malik, one of the country's most recognisable politicians, sauntered down the air bridge to the Pakistan International Airlines jet more than 90 minutes after its scheduled departure from Karachi to Islamabad on Monday. Malik promptly turned tail when a furious group of travellers waiting by the door to the aircraft began heckling, with some chasing him back to the terminal building shouting and calling him a "stupid dog".theguardian.com
"Rehman Malik sahib, 250 passengers had to suffer because of you!" One man could be heard shouting. "You are not a minister any more and even if you were a minister we don't care, we don't care any more!"dawn.com
Watch as Mr. Rehman Malik is being berated and offloaded by passengers accusing the politician of keeping the plane waiting
While authorities said the flight was delayed because of "technical issues," two airport managers have been suspended following the incident for holding the PIA Flight 370 for the politicians
PIA spokesperson Mashood Tajwar speaking to Dawn said that the delay in the flight was due to a technical issue and not the fault of Rehman Malik. “PIA does not promote VIP culture… but this flight was delayed an hour and 30 minutes due to a technical reason,” Tajwar said. “The delay had been conveyed to passengers via SMS. Some passengers who had given the contact details of their travel agent may not have been conveyed the message by their agents.”dawn.com
The airline added that it had suspended two employees for causing a further "unnecessary delay". It insisted that it does not promote "VIP culture". An aide to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that on top of the technical delay of 90 minutes, the aircraft had been held up for a further 25 minutes because Mr Malik was late, AFP reports.bbc.com
The videos, filmed on mobile phones and uploaded to video-sharing websites, went viral in Pakistan, prompting anger and ridicule against the parliamentarians on social media. The terms "VIP" and "VVIP" were quickly trending on Twitter in Pakistan.
In one video, Mr. Vankwani is seen standing in the aisle of the aircraft, next to the door. Passengers are heard asking him to identify himself. Mr. Vankwani responded: “I have nothing to do with this, I was just sitting outside.” When he told passengers he was a member of parliament, they chanted “shame, shame,” forcing him to leave the aircraft. Some passengers applauded as he left.wsj.com
When Mr. Malik walked towards the aircraft door, passengers yelled at him. One told him to apologize. Mr. Malik walked back to the gate, as passengers continued to shout at him. VIP privileges are widely reviled in Pakistan. Opposition parties, activists and citizens regularly complain about flights being delayed to accommodate politicians, road closures because of motorcades, and unfair advantages given to elected officials, bureaucrats and military leaders.wsj.com
According to the WSJ, opposition politician Imran Khan and Muslim cleric Tahir ul Qadri, who have been protesting in front of Parliament in Islamabad for over a month, have promised a more just and equal society and an end to unfair privileges
#EndVIPCulture is the call of PTI and we are glad that the people of Pakistan have stood up for their rights.— PTI (@PTIofficial) September 16, 2014
“#EndVIPCulture is the call of PTI and we are glad that the people of Pakistan have stood up for their rights,” Mr. Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, tweeted on Tuesday.wsj.com
Mr. Malik took to Twitter to defend himself, saying that the flight wasn't delayed because of him. He also accused others of defaming him saying that the incident is a conspiracy against him.
I hv right to defend myself agst the allegation.PK370 /1900hr was delayed b/c tech reasons/was expected to leave at 2030. So no delay for me— Rehman Malik (@SenRehmanMalik) September 16, 2014
The flt was announced to be delayed at 6pm till 830.i suffered equally.i reached at 835.it is wrongly thought that delay was b/c of me— Rehman Malik (@SenRehmanMalik) September 15, 2014
The PIA flight was not delayed for me.I saw one guy looked to be drunk shouting at PIA and I decided to return as the door was closed— Rehman Malik (@SenRehmanMalik) September 15, 2014
I demand open enquiry if it was delayed for me.i sensed it that some one is playing dirty and it was good avoid the situation.No delay forme— Rehman Malik (@SenRehmanMalik) September 15, 2014
I hv morale courage to apologise if I had caused the delay and what influence do I hv on PIA to delay it.i demand an enquiry into it.— Rehman Malik (@SenRehmanMalik) September 15, 2014
I am neither a VIP nor ever I behave VIP.I travel economy class.i saw two passengers abusing PIA.i saw them and returned to the lounge.— Rehman Malik (@SenRehmanMalik) September 15, 2014
PTI media cell is bashing me for no fault of mine.I hv never supported VIP culture myself .Hearsay bashing of PTI is undesirable.no comments— Rehman Malik (@SenRehmanMalik) September 15, 2014
Why am I being linked with PMLN minister.i saw the noise with the minister and decided not to go on the flight as One PTI worker was yelling— Rehman Malik (@SenRehmanMalik) September 16, 2014
I think I shd not waste more time on this .Shouting on others with out fault is not justified.let us hv some decency to respect others.— Rehman Malik (@SenRehmanMalik) September 15, 2014
According to The Guardian, Rehman Malik is one of the Pakistan's most colourful politicians, widely regarded as a buffoon
The stalwart of the opposition Pakistan People's party is one of the country's most colourful politicians, famous for his purple rinse hairstyle, odd pronouncements and for dashing to the scenes of the regular terrorist attacks that blighted his time as interior minister. Widely regarded as a buffoon, he compared himself to Winston Churchill, Peter Mandelson and David Miliband in an interview last year.theguardian.com