Islamabad airport reeks of CAA’s incompetence and corruption

New Islamabad Airport has been making headlines since its inauguration due to poor management situation and non-provision of facilities to passengers.

As a result, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and airport management have faced severe criticism right after the inauguration. Billions of rupees were spent to make faulty runways and terminals that leak incessantly. A serious technical mistake was made which severely restricts the airport’s capability to handle two concurrent flights at the same time.

According to the details, former Secretary of Defense, Lieutenant General Naeem Khalid Lodhi (R) has made some shocking revelations regarding the Islamabad Airport. While exposing the incompetence of CAA and talking about the substandard airport, he said that “Initially the airport was planned and approved for about PKR 37 billion probably during Musharraf Regime. During Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) regime, the design was reviewed and price escalated to close to PKR 60 billion and it ultimately finished in more than PKR 100 billion.”

Moreover, the former Defense Secy said that the construction of runways and infrastructure was given to a consortium of a United Kingdom (UK) company and Husnain Construction Company, a Pakistan-based contractor. However, after some time the contract was given to Chaudhry Munir.

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Who is Chaudhry Munir?

Chaudhry Mohammad Munir started off his work from managing Sheikh Zayd’s properties in Pakistan. Later on, his sister got married to the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayd. Not only that, Chaudhry Munir’s daughter has been married to the owner of Dunya TV and Punjab Group of Colleges, Mian Amir Mehmood.

Baaghi TV has reliably learnt from sources that Chaudhry Munir is also the father-in-law of Maryam Nawaz’s daughter. It has been alleged that the New Islamabad Airport Mian Munir transferred kickbacks of PKR 560 million into the accounts of Chaudhry Sugar Mills, owned by Maryam Nawaz.

According to the sources, Chaudhry Munir has very strong ties with ex-army officials as well. His sister-in-law got married to Corps Commander Karachi and the director general Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar. However, his father, Brigadier (R) Mukhtar is said to be his business partner.

This is how corruption is done when Politicians, Army Generals and Businessmen create a nexus and start scratching each others back making it a clear example of the elite vs the people.

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While discussing the contract details of the New Islamabad Airport, Lt Gen (R) Lodhi said that the “terminal building was given to China State Company (I think they were blacklisted) and a portion of the building probably the structure was sublet or minor partner to a local company, Frontier Works Organization (FWO).”

As per details, CAA, the state regulatory body tasked with regulating aviation, failed miserably in criminal oversight in basic design provision such as insufficient spacing between two parallel runways rendering the airport incapable for simultaneous flight operations from parallel runways at peak hours or to handle an A-380, etc.

These flaws are because both the contractor and regulator lack qualified expertise well versed in commercial aviation requirements and specialization in airport design.

“I visited the site as Secy Def in Jan 2012 (approx) while the construction of runways was under progress. I strongly objected to the less distance between the two runways as a consequence of which only one could be used at a time and also ordered an inquiry on escalation of price three folds, review of design etc,” said Lt Gen (R) Lodhi.

“I was immediately shown the door citing other reasons, memogate controversy being the main one,” he added.

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On August 30, 2018, according to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) inquiry, total 13 retired officers of Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) were allegedly found involved in the corruption scandal of Islamabad Airport.

The 13 officers included one each retired lieutenant general and air marshal, two retired major generals, six retired air vice-marshals, two retired brigadiers and one retired air commodore.

Unfortunately, the CAA has been reduced to a dumping ground for retired services officers, lacking in skills and competence for oversight of such projects. It takes more than the skills of a pilot to serve as an advisor for aviation or perform the role of DG CAA.

Given the fact that the difference between military aviation and commercial aviation is as vast as that between a dentist and a cardiologist. Strict oversight by qualified specialists, approval of design, and the choice of contractors chosen to build an airport is very vital.

There is no lack of qualified and experienced specialists in Pakistan. However, it is a lack of political will, integrity and ethics of governance such as conflicts of interest, disregard for merit and failure to enforce accountability for wastage of public funds that haunts all development projects and their regulatory oversight in Pakistan.

Earlier, Baaghi TV has reported many incidents regarding the Islamabad airport that costed billions of rupees which only made headlines of incompetence, poor management situation and non-provision of facilities to passengers.

This is a glaring example of mismanagement and faulty supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority. CAA must be probed for corruption and embezzlement in the construction of this mega disaster.

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New Islamabad Airport portraying the CAA incompetence