ARY Special

Airline hijackings associated with Pakistan!

Airline hijacking, also referred to as skyjacking or sky controlling, is a hostage situation when usually a group or even a single person takes unlawful control of the plane. The perpetrator of the hijacking then proceeds to make his demands and upon non-fulfillment, threatens to kill the hostages or crash the plane.

The destiny and course of the world changed on September 11, 2001. When a couple of planes ran straight into the twin towers and caused the collapse of the Twin Towers, condemnations overflowed from all parts of the world. An act of taking a plane hostage is a deadly situation and can result in the death of hundreds as well as thousands. Pakistan has also had a history of being associated with terrorism concerning airline hijackings. Below is a compiled list of ten such airline hijacking situations which concerned our nation:-

1. PIA Jumbo Jet Flight (1978)

On 2nd March 1978, a crazed hijacker on board a jumbo jet PIA flight, tried to take the plane hostage. The flight was travelling from Islamabad to Karachi. The man beheld a grenade and threatened to blow it up. Three valiant passengers overpowered him, resulting in the grenade to blow up and the hijacker losing his arm. The passengers were also injured. The hijacker was aptly hanged for the crime in 1979.

2. PIA Flight (1978)

This flight in 1978 was hijacked by a man who wanted to change the destination of the flight and take it to India. The man claimed that he wanted to undergo cancer treatment in India, hence he advised the authorities to divert the flight. In an intense drama that followed, Air Marshal (Retd.), Nur Khan who was also the Managing Director of PIA attempted to negotiate with the hijacker. Things got heated and Nur Khan was shot in the arm and despite his wounds, he overpowered the criminal.

3. PIA Flight 326 (1981)

Carrying 132 passengers and 9 crew members, PIA’s flight 326 was hijacked by three men on march 2 1981. The flight was flying from Karachi to Peshawar. The flight was diverted to Kabul, Afghanistan and the terrorists made their demands known; free 92 political prisoners across Pakistan from jails. On march 7, 1981 29 hostages were released in Kabul, women and children among them. The saga continued as General Zia refused to hinge and respond to the terrorists demands. As a result, Pakistani diplomat Tariq Rahim was shot and killed in front of the other passengers. The situation finally ended when on march 14 Gen. Zia Ul Haq agreed to release the prisoners aat a sanctuary in Libya. The Libyans refused to provide safe haven for any hijackers or their friends and as a result, Syria was chosen as the destination for the prisoners to be flown to. The thirteen days of intense suspense, drama, hijacking and negotiations made it the longest hijacking case in the history of the world.

4. Pan Am Flight 73 (1986)

The Pan Am Flight 73’s destination was the John F. Kennedy Airport in new York. Four terrorists boarded the aircraft laced with deadly weapons such as grenades, assault rifles, pistols and explosive belts. Dressed as security guards, the hijackers took control of the plane in Karachi. Through an intercom, the cockpit crew was informed of the hijacking hence they managed to ground the plane and escape via an overhead hatch. After much consultations and discussions with the American government, Pakistani commandos unleashed hell on the militants and took charge of the situation by killing all assailants. Passengers escaped safely through the exit doors of the aircraft.

5.Singapore Airlines Flight 117 (1991)

Singapore Airlines Flight 117 of Airbus A310-300 on march 26, 1991. Four hijackers claimed to be Pakistanis, communicated their demands. The flight took off from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and did reach its destination at Singapore Changi Airport.

The terrorist threatened dire consequences if Pakistani leader Asif Ali Zardari was not released. They also wanted to refuel the flight and take it to Australia. However, Singaporean soldiers stormed the plane and killed all hijackers in 30 seconds.

6.PIA Flight PK-554 (1998)

PIA Flight PK-554 was a Fokker F27 which took off from Gwadar International Airport with 33 passengers and 5 crew members. They wanted to fly into India instead of the plane’s original destination, Hyderabad airport. PAF was able to intercede the call when the pilot asked permission from the Indian authorities. After fooling the hijackers that they were going to India, the plane landed in Hyderabad and was stormed by Pakistan Army. All hostages were safely rescued.

7.   PIA Flight PK-586 (2012)

On April 27th, 2012, PIA Flight PK-586 was a Boeing aircraft that had 50 passengers and 5 crewmembers on a flight from Karachi to Bahawalpur. An individual by the name of Ahmed Javed Ansari got into a heated argument with an air hostess. Javed threatened to hijack the plane, which caused the captain to land the plane back to Karachi. Afterwards, the plane was checked by the ASF for any device or explosive but none was recovered. All passengers remained safe. The same plane was allowed to take its original destination and the man Javed Ansari was taken into custody.

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