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March 23, 2018

PIA plane crash: Victim families being kept in the dark, PHC moved

National

March 23, 2018

PESHAWAR: Member National Assembly (MNA) from Chitral and brother of one of the victims of a Pakistan International Airlines flight crash on Thursday moved the Peshawar High Court (PHC) seeking directions for the government to release final investigation report and compensation to legal heirs of the victims.

The petition was filed by Shahzada Iftikharuddin, MNA from Chitral, and Adnan, brother of the victim Salman, through Barrister Asadul Mulk.

The government of Pakistan through secretary Aviation Division, Pakistan International Airlines Corporation through its chairman, Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority through secretary Civil Aviation Authority Board Headquarters and cabinet secretary, government of Pakistan were made respondents in the petition.

The tragic crash of PIA flight PK-661 occurred near Havelian on December 7, 2016, ending the lives of all 47 people including Junaid Jamshed and Chitral Deputy Commissioner Osama Waraich on board, while en-route to Islamabad from Chitral.

“The petitioners being aware that investigation into the causes of the crash of PK -661, like any other air crash investigation, would take time, patiently waited for the final report.

They were initially verbally informed by the PIA and Aviation Authorities acting through their employees/agents that the investigation would take a few months,” the petitioners submitted, adding that as many months passed by the PIA and Aviation Authorities backtracked from their

original statements and assured the family members of the deceased victims the report would be released in a year.

It was pointed out in the petition that now more than a year had passed but the respondents were still unwilling to committing themselves to a timeline and propose a date or a tentative date for the release of the final investigation report of the tragic plane crash.

The lawmaker stated that in his capacity as an elected representative, he was duty bound to convey the plight of the aggrieved families, approached various authorities at different levels, including the Prime Minister of Pakistan, who informally relayed to the respondents to disclose the final investigation report as to know the actual causes of the crash.

Unfortunately, he stated even the kind intervention of the prime minister does not yield much results as the premier is furnished with vague and evasive answers by the respondents each time he pushes for a disclosure.

As a result of the non-disclosure, it was stated, not only families of the victims are being kept in the dark but their right to make an informed decision regarding whom to sue and on what grounds is being forcefully forfeited.

In grounds of the petition, it said the failure to disclose necessary/relevant information and the final investigation report probing the causes of the crash of PK-661 is in violation of the Article 19-A of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, which guarantees freedom of information.

It said that even if the delay in the release of the investigation report has been caused due to technical and scientific causes beyond the capability of the respondents to expedite, even then the families of the victims in such circumstances have the right, in light of the above cited Article, to be kept updated on the progress being made.

It added that failure on part of the respondents to assign reasons for the delay in the release of the final investigation report is improper, unjustifiable and contrary to settled jurisprudence.

They requested the court to direct the respondents to release the final investigation report of the crash and release the details of all persons on board along with the quantum of compensation they have received so far and how it has been computed and to declare that failure on part of the respondents to respond appropriately to requests for information made by family members of the deceased and failure to assign reasons for delay in the final investigation report is improper, unjustifiable, contrary to settled jurisprudence.

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