What a fall from grace for an airline which was once the pride of Pakistan. PIA had its moment of glory under Nur Khan and Rafique Saigol, when service to passenger was the prime objective and appointments were made on merit. There were hardly any political or khaki nominees to key positions in those days. It was Nur Khan who ensured that unions were established in PIA so that a system of checks and balances is maintained. There were no scandals or controversies involving key executives in revenue pilferages in cohorts with travel or cargo agents. PIA was not stigmatised with rumours of cutbacks in aircraft purchase deals. Nor were there scandals involving pilferage of billions in spare part procurement or flight kitchen items. Back then, PIA did not buy the Boeing 707, Trident, DC-10 or the Boeing 747, because of instructions from Islamabad, but because the choice of aircraft suited its passenger profile, route structure and affordability. The airline had a trained and disciplined workforce, routes were planned and commercial interest of the airline was the primary objective. There was no parochial or ethnic lobby that dominated the airline's policies. They were all part of a family, with zero tolerance for corruption. Today with depleted revenues, and declining passenger/ cargo loads in key markets like Saudi Arabia and UK, the airline is top heavy and controversies are far too many. PIA has suffered because it has now become a refuge for political beneficiaries with mediocre capability. -NASIR KHAN, Peshawar, via e-mail, April 6.