Flight to nowhere in Pakistan | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Flight to nowhere in Pakistan

A chartered flight on which evergreen pacifist Mani Shankar Aiyar hitched a ride on a peace mission to Pakistan returned home on Tuesday on being refused permission to land in Karachi. Vinod Sharma writes.

delhi Updated: Mar 10, 2011 01:22 IST
Vinod Sharma

A chartered flight on which evergreen pacifist Mani Shankar Aiyar hitched a ride on a peace mission to Pakistan returned home on Tuesday on being refused permission to land in Karachi.

The Club One Air aircraft ran short of fuel when made to hover over the Pakistani port city for nearly 45 minutes. By the time the intransigent Karachi air traffic control (ATC) gave it clearance to land, the plane was over Delhi with “no fuel” to go back, Aiyar told the Hindustan Times.

The diplomat-turned-politician was to leave for Karachi by a commercial flight on March 7 with a larger delegation for the concluding function of the Aman Ki Aasha programme organised jointly by an Indian media house and Pakistan’s Jang Group. “I couldn’t go with them as I was asked to stay back for a day by the parliamentary affairs minister,” he said.

It was on the advice of Pakistan’s former national security advisor, Maj Gen (retired) Mahmud Durrani, that Aiyar joined fellow Rajya Sabha MP Rajiv Shukla and his wife Anuradha Prasad on the chartered flight.

The ATC flip-flop was obviously the result of a communication gap over Aiyar’s presence on the aircraft. It happened despite “prior clearances through Pakistan’s high commissioner to India Shahid Malik,” said Aiyar.

But a senior official of the Pakistan mission here said all paper work and clearances for private chartered flights were the responsibility of the agents of the airline concerned. “We are inquiring, nevertheless, as to where the communication link broke,” he said.

The flight to nowhere in Pakistan might have left Aiyar a trifle intrigued, but he’s as hopeful as ever: “Merey man mein aman ki aasha hai, nirasha nahin (I have peace, and not disappointment, in my heart).