ISLAMABAD: For Chitral resident Shah Fahad, December 7 brings to his mind as many questions as it does the anguish of losing his sister. It was on this day in 2016 when a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight carrying around 48 people crashed in the hills near Havelian. No one on board survived.
But a year on, Fahad, like other heirs of the crash victims, is still waiting for the government to publish the official investigation report definitively identifying the reasons behind flight PK-661’s crash.
Legal heirs of around 27 crash victims have been compensated by the government so far while cases of around six victims are still being processed. Six others are still involved in litigation.
Relatives of the crash victims, however, say they do not care much about the compensation, rather are far more interested in the reasons leading to the deadly crash.
“We want to know why the plane crashed killing our loved ones. We want to know the reasons, but things are being kept hidden, deliberately,” Fahad said, adding he been representing at least 10 victims. He questioned the reasons for keeping the report hidden, adding it is giving rise to suspicions.
“I wonder why the report has not yet been shared with relatives of the victims,” Fahad asked, adding ‘Not even a single person across the country has any idea about it [crash reasons and investigation report] nor are they going to share things [from the report] with us.”
“The media has highlighted the issue and we hear that [airline] people have been cleared but that is not authentic and only the Civil Aviation Authority (CCA) provide us with an authentic report.” He said People ran from pillar to post just to secure a death certificate.
Danyal Mansoor, the brother of a 26-year-old victim, first officer Ahmed Janjua, said it was unfortunate that the government had not yet disclosed the reason for the crash. He said the disclosure of the investigation report will bring solace to his family.
`We are waiting to know who was responsible for the crash. Those responsible should be punished,` he said, adding that the PIA has given the family of its deceased employee Rs5.5 million as the final package.
Mr Mansoor has now joined the PIA on the Shaheed Quota and said they had been seven brothers.
Ehtishamul Haq, brother of 28-year-old victim Ehtiralul Haq, said he was not hopeful that he will ever get to know the cause of the crash.
“Every time PIA representatives came to our house for the documentation of insurance,1 asked them if they were aware of the cause of the crash but no one gave me a satisfactory answer. My brother got married just two months before the accident,” he said. He added that PIA had given the insurance money to the family just two weeks ago.
“I request the PIA to include new airplanes in their fleet to decrease the chances of crashes and accidents,” he said.
Shah Fahad, the brother of 26-year-old victim Ayesha Usman, said he reads the newspapers in order to get information about the plane crash. He said his sister was married and that the PIA had paid Rs5 million to the family.
The nephew of 45-year-old victim Mohammad Khan, Attaur Rehman said his uncle worked in a project in the Aga Khan University.
“He had a son and four daughters. They are all students and were dependent on their father,” he said.
Hasina Gul, a student of class seven from Chitral did not board the plane with the rest of the family as she had exams. She lost her father, mother, two sisters and two brothers in the crash. She has not been paid insurance money yet as she is not an adult and a decision about her guardianship has not been reached. It is reported that the Aga Khan Foundation has taken custody of Ms Gul, is providing her education and lodging.
According to sources, the insurance money for the late singer turned evangelist Junaid Jamshed and his wife Nayha Junaid could not be paid as the genuine heirs of the couple could notbe identified.
According to Mashood Tajwar, a spokesperson for the PIA, legal heirs of most of the crash victims have been compensated, some were in process and some in litigation while the remaining were stalled owing to lack of key documents.
“The insurance company does not accept incomplete documents and this is why some files were yet to be closed,” Tajwar explained.
PIA flight PK-661 — an ATR-42 (AP-BHO) built by the French-Italian company ATR — crashed near Havelian on December 7 evening.
Soon after the deadly crash, PIA officials said that the aircraft — which had served in the PIA fleet for nearly nine years — had undergone regular maintenance, passing with an “A-check” certification a few months before it crashed. Moreover, some reports had suggested that engine failure had caused the crash.
Meanwhile, a CAA official, when asked about the investigation report, said that the department was not a part of the authority.
“The Safety Investigation Board (SIB) is a separate, independent body which works under the federal government,” said CAA Spokesperson Parvez George. He added that the board had been separated from the CAA a few years ago and hence he could not answer for them.
Published in The Express Tribune and daily Dawn on December 7th, 2017.