Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik speaks during an interview with Reuters in lslamabad on Aug. 4, 2012
Faisal Mahmood—Reuters
By Rishi Iyengar
September 17, 2014

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight from Karachi to Islamabad took off without two of its most high-profile ticket holders — a former Interior Minister and an MP from the ruling party — after an incensed group of passengers forced them to disembark.

The passengers were kept waiting on the tarmac for two hours before former Interior Minister Rehman Malik and legislator Ramesh Kumar Vankwani showed up to board, the BBC reported.

While PIA claims the hold-up was for technical reasons, the airline has in the past delayed departures to accommodate the schedules of politicians and high-ranking officials.

A video taken by one of the passengers shows Malik walking toward the aircraft door, being confronted by the angry mob shouting things like “You should be ashamed of yourself!” and “250 passengers have been put out because of you!” Malik tries, very briefly, to respond, but on realizing the passengers are having none of it, he turns around and walks off.

Malik later said he arrived late because PIA staff told him the flight was delayed. However, the incident has ignited a social-media storm in Pakistan and brought issues of favoritism or “VIP culture” into the spotlight.

[BBC]

Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com.

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