On 7 December 2016, Pakistan witnessed its one of the most unfortunate incidents. Pakistan International Airlines Flight 661, which flew from Chitral in order to reach its destination Islamabad, crashed in the first hour of its flight near Havelian region of KPK.
All 47 passengers including 5 crew members died in the accident. Foreigners were also among the deceased persons- two Austrians and one Chinese.
The Death of Junaid Jamshed
A Pakistani singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed was also present in the plane who lost his life at the age of 52. He was on a Tableeghi Jamaat mission in Chitral.
Junaid Jamshed was born in 1964 to a reputed family of Karachi. He did schooling from Saudia Arabia after which he had a dream to join Pakistan Air Force but his weak eyesight prevented him to achieve it. After completing his graduation, he stepped into the music industry as a singer through the platform of famous Vital Signs.
By the mid of 1990s he had reached the peak of his career releasing many popular songs like “Dil Dil Pakistan” which later bagged third position among world’s top ten.
Twenty first century marked a new shift in his professional life but this time it was a spiritual one. In 2004, Jamshed officially dropped his music career and decided to devote rest of his life to Islam. He joined Tableeghi Jamaat, a prominent organization in Deoband school of thought, where he remained an active member until his tragic death.
After leaving the music industry, he became a successful entrepreneur who again appeared on television screens but as a religious commentator.
The news of his presence in the plane shocked Pakistanis who mourned his sudden demise and paid him tribute. In 2018, he was awarded Sitare-e-Imtiaz by the government of Pakistan.
What was wrong with the Aircraft?
The aircraft was originally known as ATR 42-500 which was given to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in 2007. Despite having a history of technical failures, the aircraft was given approval to take off by PIA officials.
Recently an investigation by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board of Pakistan (AAIB) also held PIA engineers responsible for high-level negligence as a fractured turbine blade went unnoticed which resulted in the fatal accident.
Criticism on PIA
National media and Pakistani citizens have called out PIA administration for such incidents. In May 2020 another plane was crashed in Karachi. The incident took around 100 lives which was also the result of ‘Human error’ by the pilot.
Following the circumstances, PIA has been banned from travelling to Europe. International observers have found PIA Airplanes prone to such kind of deadly incidents while the question of their accountability remains a mystery between authorities’ incompetence and passengers’ misfortune.