Rejecting insurance company lawsuits against international foreign airlines and cargo companies for multi-billion rupee damage, the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday ruled that the terrorist attack on the Karachi airport in June 2014 was part of a non-protracted and intensified armed conflict international relations between various banned organizations and the State of Pakistan, which involved our armed forces.
EFU general and IGI insurance companies have filed lawsuits for damages to foreign international airlines and cargo in connection with various cargoes that were destroyed on June 9, 2014, at Karachi airport during an armed attack by a group of terrorists.
The plaintiff said that various cargo shipments arriving at various airlines had been destroyed because of a terrorist attack and because the plaintiff had resolved their insurance claims to different clients whose shipments and cargo were destroyed at the airport warehouse, they, as insurance insurers, now had the right to claim the amount these are from airlines and cargo companies in terms of property and Carriage laws by the Air Act.
They said that the state itself had referred to the incident as a terrorist attack in which valuable lives including those from law enforcement officers were lost, in addition to causing other collateral damage, however, terrorist attacks were not included in the scope of armed conflict. or acts of war as mentioned in Rule 18 (2) (c) of the Law, which exempts the responsibility of the carrier in the scope of armed conflict and acts of war.
An advisor for the defendants proposed that the attack on the Karachi airport was not an isolated incident of a terrorist attack but at the relevant time, the Pakistani state was at war with terrorist groups and armed militias, thus Regulation 18 (2) (c) of the Carriage by Air Act 2012, which freed the operator from damage caused by an armed conflict war, fully applies to this case.
The defendant’s counsel believes that the defendant is not responsible for paying monetary claims to the plaintiff because the loss or damage to different shipments and cargo does not occur due to negligence, action or negligence either on the transporter or its agent, but solely due to armed confrontation between law enforcement agencies Pakistan and armed militants, who are force majeure beyond the control of either party. A single SHC bench headed by Judge Mohammad Faisal Kamal Alam, after hearing the case, observed that the attack on Karachi airport could not only be called a terrorist attack but also part of a wider armed conflict in the State. Pakistan
The high court observed that the attackers were personnel from banned organized groups involved in a series of hostilities, ranging from suicide bombings in public places to organized attacks on Pakistani armed forces, defense installations and even religious sites, and according to official figures thousands of civilians and soldiers have lost their lives. The SHC observed that the attack on the Karachi airport was not the only incident carried out by a number of dissatisfied persons or entities, but in fact it was one of 27 attacks carried out by organized armed groups and their suburbs, in a planned manner, on which, commercial aircraft and other facilities damaged at the Karachi airport.
The high court observed that the vicious cycle of violence had spread over the years, culminating in escalation and intensity, in particular, after a traumatic incident that occurred at the Army Public School in Peshawar, where innocent teachers and students lost them. life, and under constitutional amendments, a military court must be established.
The SHC observed that there was clear evidence that at the relevant time, these armed groups were also supported by foreign governments with the object determined to create fear among the wider community, paralyze administration, and pose existential threats to the state.
The high court said that it was an undeniable fact that the situation in the country when the Karachi airport was attacked, if viewed from a holistic perspective, would be part of large-scale violence perpetrated against Pakistan by banned organizations, and that it would not be an activity terrorists who are isolated but more of a non-international armed conflict (NIAC), or at least it can be categorized as a hybrid phenomenon, where repeated acts of terrorism in advancing predetermined goals translate into international non-armed conflict.
The SHC observed that one of the banned organizations mentioned in the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta) list had claimed responsibility for the attack on the Karachi airport and undeniably, gun battles between armed groups and law enforcement agencies lasted for hours, where severe damage was done on airplanes and other facilities at the airport including the warehouse of the defendants, where the shipping and cargo of different entities and persons, including those who were plaintiffs’ clients, were destroyed.
The high court observed that acts of terrorism at the Karachi airport were part of a protracted and intensive non-international armed conflict between various banned organizations and the State of Pakistan, which involved the country’s armed forces. The court observed that the terms war or armed conflict used in the Carriage by Air Act provisions above include non-international armed conflict (NIAC). SHC observes that the protection given to operators in Rule 18 (2) (c) of the law applies to the unnecessary facts of this lawsuit as a term of war and armed conflict as stated in the above rules including NIAC.
Rejecting lawsuits, the high court observed that various facilities at Karachi airport, including the defendants’ warehouses were destroyed as a result of fierce fighting between terrorists and law enforcement agencies, which was the result of non-international armed conflict; thus the defendant is not responsible for paying any amount or compensation, as claimed in the law suit to the insurance company.
It is important to mention that as many as a dozen armed militants from abroad raided Karachi airport on June 9, 2014 and were killed by military commandos and other security forces personnel during the operation which lasted for about five hours. About 25 people, including Airport Security Forces personnel, police and Rangers, were also martyred in the operation.
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