Long-suffering Pakistani airline passengers finally snapped on Monday over politicians delaying their flights, with a video clip of the incident later going viral in the country.
The passengers’ revolt spread when the country’s former Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who once led the country’s war on terror, and a legislator from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League finally boarded the Karachi-Islamabad flight after keeping fellow passengers waiting for around two hours.
Such delays to scheduled flights to suit the whims of ‘VIP’ politicians are not unusual in Pakistan but the depth of resentment and anger they cause was finally revealed in a short video clip, which showed passengers hurling abuse at the lawmakers as they finally arrived.
As Mr. Malik, a close confident of former president Asif Zardari and the late former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, walked along the air bridge to board, several passengers shouted at him to turn around and said he should be ashamed of himself.
“Malik-saheb you should go back. You should apologise to these passengers. You should be ashamed of yourself! One hundred and fifty passengers have been put out because of you”, he said.
“Malik-saheb, you’re not a minister any more, we don’t care any more. You people have to become humans. Shame on you!” another added.
As the former minister, until recently one of the country’s most powerful figures, walked away, another passenger said: “Rehman Malik has been off-loaded, throw him out!” Their actions, which were recorded on mobile phone cameras and posted on YouTube, were hailed as an outburst of people power and a rare blow against the country’s dominant ‘VIP culture’ in which powerful politicians act with impunity.
“This is a change that we are seeing among the Pakistani population and it is very healthy to see that the common man is standing up to the VIP culture and high handedness of those in power,” said Zaman Khan, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
He said the widespread possession of smart phones was giving ordinary people a bigger voice.
“The common man feels he has no rights, but now with the advent of electronic media, and having enough from those who consider themselves above the law, he is standing up for himself”, he added.