ISLAMABAD - The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has put all the airports across the country on high alert after Thursday's attack on Minhas Base and has summoned an important meeting of the airports managers (APMs) of a dozen airports facing security threats to discuss security arrangements.

The authority has marked 12 airports as sensitive with the five major international airports each in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Quetta and Peshawar categorised as high risk areas where the CAA said it is taking steps to ensure foolproof security in coordination with the Airport Security Force (ASF). The APMs of all the twelve airports have been summoned by the Principal Director Airport services (PDAPS) Khalid Gardezi to meet at the CAA headquarters in Karachi.

The meeting's exact date is to be decided after Eid holidays. It is scheduled in the first week of September, to be chaired by the Director General CAA Captain Nadeem Khan Yousufzai who arrives in Pakistan from Saudi Arabia today (Saturday) after performing Umrah.

The airports marked as sensitive include Quaid-e-Azam International Airport Karachi, Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore, Benazir Bhutto International Airport Islamabad, Quetta International Airport, Peshawar International Airport and Faisalabad, Mohenjodaro, Gilgit, Dalbadin, Turbet, Pasni and Zhob airports.

Talking to The Nation, Khalid Gardezi, the Principal Director said, the authority holds monthly meetings of the APM's Coordination Committee and quarterly meetings of all the APMs to review security measures at the airports while the upcoming meeting is summoned  after the terrorists attacked Pakistan Air Force's Minhas Base in Kamra.

He confirmed that CAA had put all the airports on high alert saying that DG CAA who was in Jeddah when Minhas Base attack took place, had ordered to do so. "We are always on high alert as per our standby arrangements but whenever some untoward incident takes place, we have to adopt extraordinary security measures indeed," he said.

The director said, the security matters involving fire-fighting, airport vigilance, inspection and necessary provisions of security equipment as well as aircraft protection would be discussed in the APM's meeting and modalities would also be finalised for fencing the outer walls of the airports where required. (Major airports are already fenced).

"The CAA's fire-fighting system is considered as one of the best across the world. Our fire-fighting teams are capable of responding to any given situation  and we are working on further enhancing their capabilities and skills," Gardezi said.

According to the relevant information provided by him, the CAA recently acquired 43 fire-fighting trucks dispatched to all the airports. Of these trucks, four each are sent to the five major airports that follow the maximum fire-fighting category known as CAT nine. "The minimum number of required trucks at any major international airport falling in the CAT nine is of three trucks compared to four trucks each we provided to our airports in Karachi, Lahore Islamabad, Quetta and Peshawar as per our enhanced security arrangement," the principal director mentioned.

One of the major security challenges to the flying aircraft, he said, came from birds hitting the planes leading to air disasters. "This is a very serious issue.

We have deployed bird shooters at the front and mid areas of the runways at every airport but this is not a permanent issue. It's the responsibility of civic authorities and the government to introduce proper wastage dumping systems at the surrounding areas of the airports to keep the birds away. Our jurisdiction stays within the airport limits. Beyond that, the responsibility lies with the authorities concerned."

Sources in the CAA said, the security threat is persistent at 26 of the total 43 airports while the remaining 17 airports are operationally downscaled due to the thin number of passengers causing cut downs in flight operations. "Although, all the airports are put on high alert to deal with any unexpected situation, only 26 operations are operationally active presently. The remaining ones located in the remote districts are downscaled following extremely thin number of flights or no flights at all due to the absence of passengers. The security arrangements are quite manageable in the given scenario, " officials shared.

The CAA Spokesperson Pervaiz George said, the enhanced security arrangements would continue for the months to follow. "The high alert security measures are not only for the Eid days but for the months to follow as well," he told this newspaper.