Shakeup Airport Security Force
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ The government said Thursday it was revamping the Karachi airport security command and would punish those responsible for lapses that led to the seizure of a Pan Am jet last September.
The shakeup in the security force was the first official indication that mistakes by government personnel played a major role in the Sept. 5 seizure of the Boeing 747 at the airport.
A brief Defense Ministry statement said Brig. Gen. Khawar Latif Butt had been appointed to command the Airport Security Force. The paramilitary unit is in charge of security at all airports in Pakistan.
Butt succeeds Brig. Gen. Tariq Rafi, who ″reverted to general headquarters,′ ′ the statement said without elaboarting.
Lt. Col. Noor Khan has been appointed commander of the security unit at the Karachi airport, the statement said. It did not say what had happened to the previous commander.
Butt will take disciplinary action against personnel ″who have been held responsible for security lapses at Karachi airport,″ it said without elaborating.
Four Palestinian hijackers disguised as security guards drove onto the airport tarmac and seized the jumbo jet as it was loading passengers for a flight to Frankfurt and New York. The hijackers fired on the passengers when the plane’s lights failed about 17 hours later, killing 21 people and injuring dozens.
The three-man American flight crew fled when the hijacking began, immobilizing the aircraft. All of the hijackers were captured alive.
Security at Karachi airport appeared lax. The government has yet to explain several questions about the handling of the hijacking, including the long lapse between the time the hijackers opened fire and the arrival of security forces.
A government investigation is continuing. No details of its work have been released.