RAWALPINDI  - Beggars have been prowling Benazir Bhutto Islamabad International Airport (BBIIA), irking passengers and posing a security scourge.

Concerned at security, the BBIIA manager wrote to regional police officer and ASF high-ups, but to no avail. Alarmingly enough, beggars often breached airport security by jumping walls, according to airport officials. A visit to the airport Thursday revealed that one- and- half dozen beggars, including women and children, were on the loose at the airport. A bunch of women beggars welcomed South Africa-returned Ishtiaq Ahmed Karim as he landed homeland at 8:15am. To his surprise, they begged foreign currency.

“The presence of a bunch of beggars at such a sensitive spot shows security claims. Authorities should put beggars behind the bars,” Karim told The Nation.

Umrah returnee Waqar Ahmed said he got himself freed after paying Saudi Riyals.  The beggars have also been enjoying pick-and-drop services. An official said on anonymity that these beggars were being dropped and picked by taxicabs. An ASF official said barring beggars from the airport was the responsibility of Civil Aviation Authority. “We are here to maintain law and order, not to put a bar on beggars” the ASF personnel said, adding that most of beggars got into the airport by ‘wall-jump’.

On the other hand, a CAA spokesman said they are bound to keep vigilance, not to counter flux of people and beggars. “Barring baggers is the responsibility of cops deployed at the airport police post” he stressed.  He went on to say: “The ASF has been toeing (police’s) policy of lethargy. Police and ASF must cope with its protection and security needs since they are equipped with guns and sticks. Many times, the CAA official caught beggars and handed over to police who set them free the next day.” The RPO could not be reached for comments.