To the relief of the common commuters, Pakistan Air Lines Pilots Association (PALPA) has called off the weeklong boycott of operating PIA flights. This decision came two days after Senator Talha Mahmood, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat, persuaded its president to join talks with the PIA management.

However, before Pakistani commuters can make definitive travel plans the deadlock should be allowed to permanently resolve itself. Despite the grievances of the pilots, many of which are legitimate, the party that was most affected by this stand-off was the commuters. Additionally, with people stranded in Makkah after this years tragic Haj, the choice of timing on the part of PALPA was irresponsible.

This responsibility for resolving such problems also rests squarely on the government’s shoulders. PALPA was always going to push a harder line, since it is was banking on public inconvenience to put pressure on the government. PIA and the state should have looked for a compromise, instead of laying down the gauntlet to PALPA by announcing a confrontational ‘Plan B’ - restarting flights by hiring pilots on contract and borrowing the services of the Pakistan Navy. If it meant capitulating to the demands of PALPA then its should have; after all the strike is a result of the government not fulfilling promises made to the pilots a several years ago in an agreement - or at least that is core of the demands.

Other just demands must also be considered. The national airline is not known as the most financially stable institute, and low remuneration of its employs is well known. The state authorities should not have let matters get to this stage in the first place. The PALPA protests are just another nail in the coffin the national airline has been building for itself.

The present agreement seems to indicate a compromise, but it is still provisional. The end of the strike will cool the matter in the media and PALPA will lose most of its momentum. The common commuter is suffering from great losses, not just in financial terms, and thus must be the foremost priority of the pilots and the airline.