A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Boeing 777 aircraft was seized by authorities in Malaysia over a lease dispute. The aircraft, acquired on lease from Malaysia, was seized at Kuala Lumpur International Airport over non-payment of dues worth $4 million. The plane was seized following a court order.
This is the second time the PIA aircraft has been impounded in Malaysia over the issue of outstanding dues. The same aircraft was seized by the Kuala Lumpur airport authorities in 2021 on the same issue.
However, it was later released following a diplomatic assurance from Pakistan on payment of the pending dues. The aircraft was then brought back to Pakistan on January 27 along with 173 passengers and crew members on board. But the dues were never paid by Pakistan.
The economic crisis in Pakistan has since only worsened as it has slipped into a financial abyss. The ongoing face-off between the Army and the ruling dispensation on one side and the ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan and the judiciary on the other side has added to the instability in the country.
With mounting debt and skyrocketing inflation, things are not expected to be normal in Pakistan anytime soon. The situation has come to such a pass that the country has put its embassy properties on sale in many countries.
In April last year, the official Twitter handle of the Pakistani embassy in Siberia had put out a tweet stating that the staff had not been paid their salaries for the past three months. A similar tweet was then shared by the handle of the embassy in Argentina.
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This apart, Pakistan has also sold one of its old embassy buildings in the US. The beleaguered country has also closed its embassies in some countries where work can be done without officials. Imran Khan was the Prime Minister of Pakistan at that time.
According to many Pakistan watchers, the country's situation is only going to worsen in the coming days and there is a strong possibility that it will face a Sri Lanka-like bankrupcy in a month or two. With IMF refusing to extend any loan to it, Pakistan will not be able to repay all its external debt of $27 billion even if China comes to its rescue, hence its bankruptcy is certain.
On the other hand, the political situation is likely aggravate in the coming days with none of the sides ready to relent. Experts apprehend that it may escalate to the level of civil war and ultimately lead to fragmentation of the country in a year or so.
Story first published: Wednesday, May 31, 2023, 15:23 [IST]