Pak military team detained at US airport; flies home in protest
The nine-member delegation of high-ranking Pakistani officers boarded United Airlines Flight 727 from the Dulles International Airport in Washington to Tampa yesterday, but were pulled off the plane, Mike Trevino, spokesman for the Airlines, was quoted as saying by 'The Washington Post'.
He said they were deboarded from the plane after one of them "made a comment to a flight attendant."
The delegation was to travel to Tampa, a Gulf Coast Bay city in the state of Florida, to attend the annual conference of the US-Pakistan Military Consultative Committee.
Though the spokesman refused to provide details, Pakistani officials said the remark came from a General in the delegation.
Pak military team detained at US airport; flies home in protest
The General, weary of a long day of travel that began in Islamabad, said "I hope this is my last flight," or words to that effect.
That sparked a call to Dulles law enforcement officials, who "detained the delegation for two-and-a-half hours and refused to allow the officials to contact their embassy or the US military officials who had invited them to visit", the Post quoted an unnamed Pakistani military official as saying.
Pak military team detained at US airport; flies home in protest
The Pakistanis were finally released after police at Dulles determined they did not pose a threat.
But instead of proceeding to Tampa, the delegation was ordered to return to Pakistan by their military superiors in Islamabad, in protest of their treatment, the Pakistani official said, adding that they were "verbally abused."
Pak military team detained at US airport; flies home in protest
The Post said the delegation members alleged they were "interrogated and rudely treated by security officials at Dulles International Airport."
The officers are scheduled to depart the US this evening.
"Pakistani officials said they received apologies from Pentagon and Centcom officials," the Post said.
Pak military team detained at US airport; flies home in protest
The officers were originally en route to US Central Command headquarters in Tampa to attend the annual conference, said Maj David Nevers, a Central Command spokesman.
He said Centcom officials hoped to reschedule the conference.
Source: Agencies