Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan. ( AFP / ARIF ALI)

Pakistan airport's international status not 'revoked' after Khan dismissed as PM

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Social media posts shared hundreds of times in April 2022 claim an airport in the north of Pakistan had its international status "revoked" after Imran Khan was dismissed following a no-confidence vote in parliament. This is false, according to Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority. The airport is set to welcome its first international flight on May 13, 2022. 

The claim was shared here on Facebook on April 22, 2022.

The Urdu-language post translates to English as: "(Bad news for tourism!) International status of Skardu airport has been revoked after the opposition came into power. Sign board has also been removed. No international flight will land at Skardu airport now.

"Please be reminded that former Prime Minister Imran Khan had accorded international status to Skardu airport to make Skardu a tourism hub and India had objected to it." 

The posts circulated online after Imran Khan was booted from office on April 10 after losing a no-confidence vote.

Shehbaz Sharif was elected Prime Minister the next day and has since formed a new government with members from the two main opposition parties that had combined to remove Khan after weeks of political crisis. 

A screenshot of the misleading Facebook post taken on May 2.

Skardu lies about 290 km (180 miles) northeast of Pakistan's capital Islamabad in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, and is a starting point for mountaineers from all over the world who want to take on K2, the globe's second-highest mountain.

The city was also one of the sites of a territorial conflict between India and Pakistan following the bloody 1947 partition of the subcontinent.

Skardu's airport opened to international flights on December 2, 2021, under Khan's plan to promote tourism across Pakistan.

India's Ministry of External Affairs opposed the move, calling it "interference in India's internal matters", English-language daily The Statesman reported

The claim that Skardu airport's status was revoked has also been shared hundreds of times on Facebook here, here, and here; and on Twitter here, here and here.

But the claim is false.

'Fabricated and baseless'

Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority rejected the claim in a tweet on April 24, 2022, saying it was "fabricated and baseless".

Saifullah, a spokesman for the authority, told AFP on April 29, 2022, that an international charter flight was set to land at Skardu International Airport on May 13.

The airport's first international flight since its upgrade is due to arrive from Munich, Germany, according to reports from local media Pamir Times, G News Network, and the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.

Keyword searches found no official statements or reports that Skardu airport's international status had been revoked following Khan's departure.