In the days of kings and emperors, when war was the way of the world, a horseman in each army would carry a battle flag that they would defend with their lives. If the flag bearer would fall, it would be seen as a great loss to the honor of the unit, often resulting in a loss in the battle. One major lesson we can learn from history is that in those days, people were idiots. If they could just have two flagbearers or more in each unit, they would not have to face humiliation if one of them fell.
After failing to find a solution to the crippling problems of Pakistan International Airlines and the refusal of its employees to allow the privatization of the national flag carrier, the government has decided to form a new airline. With two flag carriers, the country can save itself from embarrassment if one of them falls. I congratulate the government on this out-of-the-box solution to a deadlock that has kept the national airline hostage for years if not decades.
I believe that this new airline should be funded by Pakistan’s all-weather friend China. A controversy in Pakistan over the route of the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor threatens to stall the project. If that happens, Islamabad will lose out on a great opportunity to enhance its economy and infrastructure, and Beijing will not be able to gain access to the warm waters of the Arabian sea. In such a situation, it will be wise to convert the CPEC into an aerial route to Gwadar, thus putting to rest the bickering over which cities it should include. The new airline should be made part of the CPEC project, and Beijing should pay Islamabad to develop that aerial route.
The people of Pakistan are sick and tired of hearing that their national airline is among the worst in the world. Setting up a second national airline will mean that at least one of our national flag carriers will not be the worst airline in the world, but the second worst. This may also be helpful in other ways. For example, developing a new airline and hiring new staff and crew for it will also mean that at least one of our flag carriers will have the second highest employee-to-flight ratio in the world.
Pakistan has been facing a serious unemployment problem in the last decade. One reason behind high joblessness among Pakistani youth is that a large percentage of its labor is unskilled. If we set up a new airline, we will be able to employ thousands of unskilled young people, thus bringing down the national unemployment rate by at least a small fraction of a percent. This may seem small, but if we continue to set up a series of new national airlines, we will be able to lower our unemployment rate significantly over the long term.
This process may be repeated in the case of Pakistan Railways as well as other loss making national enterprises, and may bring surprising results. It will also be good for democracy in Pakistan, as new job vacancies will give the country’s emerging new political parties the opportunity to give government jobs to their unqualified voters.
It is pertinent to mention that I am not against the PIA employees who have been protesting to keep their jobs. I do not want the national flag carrier to be privatised any more than they do. My argument is in fact that setting up a new airline will mean the number of employees will double. If there are twice as many employees scared about losing their jobs, the protests will be twice as large, the teams negotiating with the government will have twice any members, and when they will call off their strike, the embarrassment will be shared by twice as many representatives – that means less average embarrassment per person.
In conclusion, developing a new airline will do in weeks what PIA took decades to do – waste billions of rupees of public money and embarrass our country all over the world in a wide variety of ways. There is no immediate need to worry about the passengers. If they were looking for quality service, they wouldn’t be flying PIA.

The author is a User Experience Disruptor with a degree in the Poetics of Mischief.

harris@nyu.edu

@cyborgasms