Lahore: PIA yet to prey on falcon smugglers
LAHORE: Even after a year, the PIA management has failed to finalize the inquiry into the smuggling of falcons by its employees, sources in PIA confided to The Nation on Wednesday. The airline had started an inquiry into the issue when Customs Department had sent a report wherein it was disclosed that some PIA employees were involved in smuggling of Falcons to Qatar. Customs Department also imposed a fine on some PIA employees on their involvement in smuggling of Falcons under the cover of poultry or pigeons. A PIA senior officer seeking anonymity said, “Yes the airline was looking into the scam and around twelve employees of PIA were kept under microscope to find facts”.
He said that the incident took place in July 2011 when PIA employee Iqbal Gurki and eleven others were allegedly involved in smuggling of Falcons to many Arab states. He said that modus operandi of the accused was that they showed poultry of pigeons in cage whereas falcons were kept inside to avoid custom duty. Another PIA officer said that initial investigation was conducted by Security in charge Maqsood who after recording statements of the accused presented his report to higher authorities, since there was substance in the report of Maqsood PIA started regular inquiry into the issue. But because the main culprit of the case was linkd with employees union of PIA Peoples Unity the inquiry was being processed very slowly. Some sources claimed that the Union office bearers were influencing the inquiry process to hush up the issue.
To a question that how many falcons were smuggled to Qatar the PIA official said, “I am not sure but I guess that these were ten in number which were caught”. How many were smuggled earlier than that nobody knows and it would be established only after the inquiry is completed. Some reliable sources said that these PIA employees were also involved in smuggling of heroin as another inquiry was also under process. A PIA officer said that inquiry process was getting late due to the reason that one of the inquiry officers was on leave now because he has joined office and shortly all the about twelve employees would be summoned and their statements would be recorded by the inquiry officers. An inquiry committee of two officers has been formed comprising Ali Haider, Human Resource Officer and Atif Butt, Assistant Finance Manager. An officer said that PIA senior management has asked inquiry officers to finalize the inquiry by the end of this month.