Pakistan Railways, the major logistic plank of the country that also offers affordable travel to a vast majority of its population, has been put on the privatisation list because it is facing huge losses. But PIA, the luxury mode of transport of the country's elite whose astronomical losses dwarf those of Pakistan Railways has been left out. That it is used by barely 4 to 5% of the population is seemingly irrelevant. The national airline has been the victim of abuse by every sitting government, including the present regime. It has endured incompetent, corrupt, even unqualified political appointees in executive positions who have robbed it blind. From 1984 onwards, the profitability of this unfortunate airline has been bleeding out through controversial deals one after another, ranging from the sale of DC-10-30s by Zia junta to the B777 deal by the Musharraf clique. In the later regime, we saw scams rising to the level of absolutely scandalous in procurement of spare parts and leasing of aging airplanes. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been reportedly made in kickbacks and nobody held accountable, because the establishment does not want accountability of those who robbed PIA. The airline has the highest employee to aircraft ratio in the world but continues to be stuffed with irregular new employees in their thousands that are employed on adhoc basis in violation of rules. Now we hear that PIA investments in a subsidiary, which of late has become profitable and is owned by the taxpayers, is being considered as collateral to secure sovereign guarantees from none other than the owners itself. That means more funds of taxpayers are about to be squandered. -JAMIL A., Islamabad, via e-mail, February 20.