When his flight was cancelled, the minister for tourism in the Gilgit-Baltistan provincial government, in the north of Pakistan, reacted in rather radical fashion. In the middle of the departures hall of Islamabad Airport, from where he was supposed to fly to Gilgit on November 16, he set fire to his clothes. Footage of the incident was shared widely on social media, prompting anger among many Pakistani internet users.
Fida Hussain was on his way back to his home region with the national carrier Pakistan International Airlines. His flight was at first announced as delayed and then cancelled, on account of bad weather. This sent the provincial minister into a rage, prompting him to set fire to his clothes, as can be seen in these pictures shared on Facebook. At one point, an airport employee brings a fire extinguisher to put out the flames, but the minister repels him with a kick.
The minister’s anger did not end there. A second video shows him arguing with another airport employee. “You say the weather is bad? So the weather is bad for one flight and not for another?” said Hussain, according to a translation given by the Pakistani English-language newspaper Dawn. He then pushed the employee away and ordered him to fetch his superior.
Pictures of the incident caused annoyance among Pakistanis online. Some left comments on the minister’s Facebook page, accusing him of thinking himself above the law.
On November 20, Pakistan’s Supreme Court announced it had summoned Hussain and the employee he shoved. “As reported in the media, the incident occurred because of a flight being cancelled for reasons of bad weather, and the minister pushed the employee so hard that he fell,” the Supreme Court said in a statement.
Despite the outcry, Hussain has made no mention of the incident on his Facebook page. Acting as if nothing had happened, in his last post, dating from November 22, the minister posted an old interview in which he sang the praises of the beauty of the Gilgit-Baltistan landscape.