ISLAMABAD - The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) conceded before a Senate standing committee on Monday that the ministry of interior had sent a letter to it but the authorities turned a deaf ear to the advice.

“The interior ministry had sent a letter but the authorities showed negligence to follow up,” said DG CAA while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat.

Earlier this month, militants had attacked Karachi airport and following that incident Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had revealed that his ministry on the basis of intelligence report had warned Sindh authorities and asked them to increase security at old terminal of Karachi airport.

“It is necessary to learn about the deficiencies of security lapses after terrorist attacks on sensitive points like airport. Whether the terrorists had support from within the security apparatus?” remarked committee chairperson Senator Kalsum Parveen.

She said, “We are in a state of war and there is a need to beef up security at all small and large airports of the country as the attack on Karachi and then Pesahawar airports had sent the world a message that Pakistan is not safe.”

Senator Rubina Khalid from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said that residential areas in neighbourhood of the airports were the real cause of concern.

The DG briefed the committee about the incident and contradicted media reports regarding the cold storage fire in which several people had died. “The terrorists hit cargo building and the cold storage at first through bombs due to which both the buildings came under heavy fire,” he added.

Talking about those who were stuck inside the cold storage, the DG said that those people had died immediately after the building came under fire. He referred to autopsy reports of Agha Khan Hospital and said that “all those people had died within minutes of the fire.” He denied media reports and claims of the victim families of having telephonic contacts with the deceased.

Secretary CAA Muhammad Ali Gardezi informed the committee that security arrangements have been beefed up at all airports of the country. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had approved and released Rs 6 billion along with the recruitment of 500 personnel, he added.

He said, “We have learnt a lesson from Karachi incident and Airport Security Force (ASF) has shortage of armed personnel carriers (APCs).” He said that the CCTV footage showed that there were 10 terrorists and they had entered from two different entry points. The ASF fought with terrorists for 26 hours, he added.

State Minister Sheikh Aftab Ahmed said that the CAA comes under the supervision of the prime minister and “I had visited the Karachi airport and submitted a detailed report of the incident to the PM.”

The DG ASF informed the committee about the security arrangements at airports and said, “Now it is not possible for anyone to break in or carryout terrorist activity at any airport.”

Meanwhile, Senator Talha Mehmood from the JUI-F raised the issue of limited number of flights for Gilgit from Islamabad. He said that it was a profitable route and the number of flights should be increased.

277 Karachi profiteers fined

Our Karachi staff reporter adds: City administration has imposed Rs0.271 million fine on 277 profiteers who were violating the government pricelist while 43 traders were sent to jail over charging excessive rate on essential items.    

Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui has said the campaign is launched against the profiteers and it would continue till they ensured that the commodities were sold at fixed rates.

He further said the City administration had focused on those areas where complaints against price hike were received. The areas included Saddar, Civil Line, Garden, Site, Baldia, Ferozabad, Jamshed Quarters, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulzar-e-Hijri, Liaquatabad, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, New Karachi and Model Colony.

In crackdown, 63 milkmen, two traders of general commodities, 20 chicken sellers, 122 vegetable sellers and 70 fruit traders were fined for selling essential items at excessive rates while 43 profiteers were sent to jail.

The commissioner directed the assistant commissioner to depute administrative officers in vegetable and fruit markets to ensure government controlled rates.