The PIA protest saga continues, albeit with 17 out of 120 flights resumed on Tuesday. With the anticipation of more flights being resumed tomorrow, the government does not like look like it will back down from its commitment to eventually privatise the airline one way or another.

The government’s ambition is practical and its importance cannot be denied, however, the callousness by which the deaths of the three PIA employees have been ignored by PML-N is shameful to say the least. The investigations surrounding the issue have come to naught and no public apology has been made. The government is engaged with negotiations behind closed doors with the management and the heads of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) and it seems to have borne some fruit, but ultimately it remains to be seen how effective this process will be considering that JAC will not consent to the privatisation process.

Many air hostesses and other employees have claimed that the Police was sent to their homes in a bid to coerce them into coming back to work. Using force at this point will only alienate more employees. The government has no right to threaten employees with arrest. If there’s a problem at work, an employee is fired, not arrested. It is important to remember that flights did not come to a halt before the workers lost their lives. The employees of the national carrier are not as unified as it seems. If the government starts trying to make amends by reaching out the families of the dead and holding those responsible accountable for this tragedy, many employees will start coming back to work, and given the overstaffing problem, the number might just be enough to resume full operations.

PIA engineers reportedly stated that the flights operated on Tuesday were not given proper security and safety go-aheads, and absolved themselves of any responsibility in the case of an untoward accident. Using the threat of actions in a bid to ground flights is unconscionable; the employees of PIA would do well to remember that the safety of passengers is paramount no matter the on-ground situation. Strike or no strike, if flights have been resumed they must reach their destinations safely. Passengers of over 120 domestic and international flights are still stranded daily. The government is winning this battle against the protesters, even though this is not entirely obvious at this point. It is regrettable that the workers that lost their lives will never receive justice.