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The nightmare also known as Bacha Khan International Airport

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Management of airport is in shambles as passengers are often inconvenienced, if not harassed . PHOTO:EXPRESS
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar airport can be easily categorised as the worst place in the country. Not because of the terror attacks or clogged traffic lines that have caused many to miss flights, but for the manner in which the airport is managed.

If airports signify quality of governance, failure would be a rather mild term to use when it comes to the Bacha Khan International Airport. The luggage there is still shifted in tractors run on generators and if there is a power failure, the baggage carousel will not work.

Selective security

Residents have complained of security checks, which are completely understandable in the larger scheme of concerns hovering over the city. However, the irony is that security inside the airport is highly selective. If you are a person of influence and have made a few phone calls, there will always be someone waiting to take you across the multi-layered system.  The system itself in physical form is no less than harassment.

Even when your luggage is put through multiple scanners, it will still be opened up before a long queue of people who are more interested in your belongings than their own. If one is lucky, they will be able to pass through the Anti-Narcotics Force  post without the official on duty managing to puncture a shoe or dig a hole in a gift for someone with the help of a screwdriver. In case you decide to protest, the answer is always, “We apprehend three people daily who are trying to smuggle drugs”. You are even asked if you have any secret spaces in your luggage.

A tough ride

The immigration counter is the experience of a life time. Whether on arrival or departure, there is always a person who has a list of people inscribed on a piece of paper.

If somehow your name corresponds to any on the list he keeps repeating at the top of his lungs, you are then asked about the reference who included your name in the list and if all the details match up, voila! You cross through the immigration counter in a jiffy while frustrated faces from long queues silently curse you.

Although this sounds comical, the fact remains that majority of the people who travel from Bacha Khan International Airport are migrant workers and come from lesser developed districts to mostly travel to the Middle East.  These souls are put through this humiliation, but they hardly question the treatment meted out to them.

There is a consistent rant that tourism should return to K-P and that the area has become relatively peaceful, but the fact is that those people, who have some self-respect, choose to avoid Peshawar airport for obvious reasons.

Those who advocate the beauty of Peshawar fail to realise that airports are the first impression that people visiting their area take back. It’s a space that signifies the culture, people and the ethos in a microcosm. Unfortunately, subsequent governments have failed to make any significant achievement in the context. The Peshawar airport for now is nothing but a burden of a badly constructed dream.

By Iftikhar Firdous Published in The Express Tribune

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