The Second Day of February was indeed a black day for Pakistan. On this day several innocent lives fell prey to bullets fired during an agitation launched by PIA employees against privatization of the National Carrier. The leaders of the protest claimed that the firing was done by paramilitary forces, sent to protect the Airport and its assets, while this allegation is denied by both the Sindh Police and the Rangers, who say that the shooting was carried out from inside the unruly crowd. Latest video footage released by television channels appears to have multiplied this ambiguity.

The chain of events leading up to the tragic incident and what is now expected to happen has become a hot topic amongst analysts, who earn their bread and butter by keeping an eye on events. This time however, these discussions have an ominous ring. Almost every analyst and expert that I have met is of the opinion that the PIA agitation may have been exploited by elements that want to discredit the Armed Forces and paramilitary assets of Pakistan, with political and self-preservation motives. Experts speaking on television channels are tentatively suggesting that the Rangers (and indirectly the Interior Ministry) may have been deliberately trapped into a situation, where they could be discredited in the eyes of law and the public. Questions are being raised as to why the Rangers deployed themselves ahead of the Police instead of behind them as is customary in such situations? Some experts are suggesting that if the firing did originate from within the crowd it was most likely part of an ingenious plan to accomplish the above. Whatever be the truth and outcome of investigations into what happened, one thing is certain that the well-timed live appearance of an emotional Chairman PIA on a private channel will in all probability dilute some support for the agitation.

Seen from a higher perspective, the protest has caused a loss to the exchequer running into millions in revenues. It has also effected supporting businesses and above all provided another handle to those engaged in presenting our negative image on the international scene. There is a need therefore, to let better sense and perhaps patriotism prevail into resolving the issue in a manner where national interest is kept in the forefront. Having said this, our sympathies go out to the families of those that fell on this infamous February day, along with the prayer that may the Almighty rest the departed souls in eternal peace.

While the country is in a somber mood because of what happened, I cannot but criticize the private airline, which pounced upon the opportunity created by the ongoing strike and unrest. This carrier immediately announced a substantial increase in its domestic fares to make more money - in indecent haste.

And now to another depressing topic - cricket and the lack of moral responsibility being displayed by those in charge of the game. I was once a keen follower of our team’s exploits and took occasional defeats in stride knowing that such ups and downs did occur in the field of sports. I was however forced to change my view because of the controversies that raged around our players and the Cricket Board. I no longer set everything aside and glue myself to the ‘telly’ to watch the national team play because I cannot come to terms with their consistently dismal performance with the bat and ball. I and many others like me, feel strongly that those at the helm of cricketing affairs must accept responsibility and show moral courage to clean up their desks and let better men take their place. If they need an ‘incentive’, they only have to follow the example of the Chairman PIA, who has, in a remarkable show of integrity and professional ethics, accepted responsibility for the crisis and tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister.