There has to be a method to this madness, or a serious problem of every government starting from Zia, who considered state assets to be abused by cronies as if these were spoils of war. Starting from controversial sale of brand new DC-10s and their replacement with ageing B747-200 from Canadian Pacific by Viqar Azeem, to induction of B777 ignoring white tail option of United Airlines with advantage of 35% less, this has been going on for ages. Can anybody justify choice of blacklisted vendor to install expensive seats on B777 and leasing of aircrafts such as A330 at almost double going market rate and similar deals for A320 or sale of airworthy A310 for peanuts to a German company.

We can differ with ZAB’s economic policies but the fact remains that he alone considered PIA a national asset. His government alone performed role of custodians by appointing men of honor with integrity such as Rafique Saigol and Nur Khan to steer PIA. Within six months of Zia’s takeover, Nur Khan resigned because of massive political interference and thereafter started an unending chain of events and abuse by every government. Why should any government appoint an individual facing numerous allegation ranging from financial irregularities in recruitment, a charge substantiated by AVM Mushaf Ali Mir in an investigation conducted by him, and a person probed for illegal smuggling of national heritage artifacts destined for Surrey Mansion, with numerous other allegations which merited termination in service to be choice for appointment as MD. If such criminal abuses of power were not by design than what else was the objective of ignoring security clearance essential for such nominations.

Should it not arouse attention that governments headed by businessmen whose personal industrial empires and assets have risen astronomically would make such dubious appointments in a country where there is no dearth of highly qualified specialists in every field.

Why should this callous disregard for state assets continue unabated with vengeance? PIA routes, reputation and market share build over years were surrendered to advantage of regional airlines. To add salt to injury is the choice of men placed at helm of national carrier. Gross indiscipline has been nurtured by lack of accountability and today PIA stands crippled, yet the government cannot find a single person such as Nur Khan to steer it out of trouble.


Lahore, June 20.