ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight did not catch fire but one of its four engines saw a spark. The aircraft was sent immediately for repair and the same aircraft flew again towards its destination. This was stated in a meeting called by Minister for Defence Syed Naveed Qamar at the PIA office on Tuesday, a press release said on Tuesday.

The meeting was attended by Chairman PIA Lt General (r) Asif Yasin Malik, Managing Director PIA Junaid Younus and other officials of PIA.

On December 2, 2012, a PIA’s Islamabad-bound flight from Karachi saw more than two-hour delay in taking off after it was seen emitting heavy smoke reportedly due to fire. Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, federal ministers, MNAs, MPAs, Senators, senior officers up to the rank of federal secretaries and other dignitaries were travelling in the said flight.

 The passengers underwent enormous suffering due to the life threatening situation they faced inside the aircraft and the physical condition of some parliamentarians deteriorated due to the criminal negligence of the PIA. However, the PIA said that flight was not disrupted due to fire but it was just a ‘spark.’

Instead of taking action against the elements responsible for this serious technical lapse, Secretary Defence Lt-Gen (r) Asif Yasin Malik was also seen hushing up the matter and called it a case of ‘spark.’ As part of this face-saving exercise, now the defence minister has stepped ahead to downplay this incident by labelling it a mere case of ‘spark’

Replying to the questions raised by the media on Tuesday, the minister said that PIA would resume flights to Chicago and Qandhar in a few months’ time. The PIA will also add new aircraft in its fleet of 33 aircraft, summary of which has been moved. He stated that there has not been any hiring in PIA in his tenure and the matter of pilots fake degrees is an indication that PIA’s management is focusing on merit, strictly.

The minister said that the New Islamabad International Airport (NIIA) would be partially operational by March next year and start operating cargo flights.