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Frustrated by a 2-Hour Delay, Passengers Refuse to Let Pakistani Politician Rehman Malik Board Plane

Categories: South Asia, Pakistan, Citizen Media, Politics

A mobile video showing angry airline passengers shooing off [1] one of Pakistan's most prominent politicians Rehman Malik from a delayed Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight leaving Karachi for capital city Islamabad has gone viral.

Flight delays because of politicians or well-connected individuals are not uncommon on Pakistan's national airline. It is unclear whether PK 370 was ‘delayed’ for Malik or because of technical difficulties, which is also fairly common. But some of the flight's disgruntled passengers decided that the two-hour delay was Malik's fault and refused to let him enter the plane. After the incident, Malik tweeted [2] that the delay had nothing to do with him.

According to Daily Motion user Minator90210 [3], who posted a series of mobile videos from inside the plane, crew members told passengers the delay was because of a technical difficulty initially. But a buzz started on the plane that the delay was because of VIP passenger former Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who was running late.

Within three hours of being posted on the video sharing site Daily Motion, the mobile clip showing Rehman Malik being confronted by angry passengers [1] has been viewed more than 53,000 times. (YouTube is banned in Pakistan but the clip has also been reposted [4]there.)

A few disgruntled passengers are clearly heard but not visible in the mobile video, which focuses on the entrance of the plane connected to the jet bridge. One passenger says in English, “My foot VIP. I will grill him. Don't you worry. When he comes in.”

Another frustrated passenger chimes in Urdu,”Sir, someone should grill these donkeys. They delay us by 2-3 hours all the time.”

A few more passengers join in, completing each other's sentences, “We have taken it [the VIP culture] for 68 years [that's how long Pakistan has been independent]. Are we going to take it for another 68 years?”

As Malik is visible walking through the the jet bridge towards the plane, one passenger exclaims in Urdu, “He has arrived. He has arrived.”

Angry passengers start accusing and shouting at him for delaying the flight for two hours. Malik almost instantly turns back with his entourage before boarding the plane. 

Other passengers can be heard angrily cursing at the minister from behind. The passenger who promised to grill him apologizes for the aggression and tries to take a softer approach in his tone, but a member of the crew tries to stop him, then he shouts to Malik, “Sir, before you go back, you should apologize to these passengers!”

Malik turns around for a second, and we can't hear what he says. The same passenger continues, “Rehman Malik, 250 passengers have been delayed because of you. I am sorry. It is your fault sir. You should be ashamed of yourself. Mr. Malik, you are not a minister anymore. And even if you are a minister, we don't care. We don't care! You people have to become humans. Come down to earth!”

As Malik exits, the passenger says, “Close the gates and fly this plane to Islamabad. This should be [known] and recorded. Rehman Malik has been offloaded. [We] threw him out!”

After Malik turned back from the plane, the politician, who has over 200K followers on Twitter, turned to the platform to explain his side:

Minator90210 also posted two other videos from inside the plane before Rehman was shooed off. In the first one, passengers try to confirm if Rehman Malik is delaying the plane; it is titled “PIA officials trying to hide identity of Rehman Malik [7]:”

“Who delayed this plane? Rehman Malik? I demand the captain close the door of the plane now. Tell Rehman Malik to take a bus to Islamabad. This is not fair,” exclaims a passenger in the video. A lawyer says, “Who will fight my case tomorrow, my father? I have work to get to!”  

A second video posted by Minator90210 shows another politician from the ruling party PML-N Ramesh Kumar Vankwani entering the plane late as well. Passengers ask him who he is and accuse him of being with Rehman Malik; he gives them a confirmation that Rehman Malik was indeed a passenger on the plane, but says he isn't with him. Passengers aren't convinced by his story and shoo him off the plane as well, chanting “shame, shame, shame, get off the plane.”

Rehman Malik served as Pakistan's minister of interior from 2008-2013, and was at the forefront of the country's battle against terrorism in the last government led by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Recently Malik was back in the news for trying to help the current government of Nawaz Sharif negotiate with politicians leading massive anti-government protests in Islamabad, which has attracted tens of thousands of protesters across the country,  [8]around slogans decrying corruption, and Pakistan's VIP and entitlement culture.