Public enterprises like PIA must not merely be bogged down by technicalities of efficiency, productivity and economy. Remember that they are an effective instrument of social policy, economic justice and achievement of the final goal for which Pakistan was established.

Since you are exercising a public function the politicians will expect to criticize you since you are operating in their sphere. Their criticism may or may not be fair. Involved in the situation are factors of ignorance and or prejudice. Being representative of the public politicians are entitled to respect.

In experts’ view the best way to approach politicians who have criticism to make, is to engage in private exchanges. If you engage in a public war with politicians you are asking for defeat. If you have something to say on your side you must put it into their minds in private, and you must persuade them that when they say it in public they thought of it first. This applies equally to politicians whether they are in government or outside government. Corporations or public enterprises can retain their autonomy or freedom as long they are able to convince politicians that there is nothing serious for them to ask questions about. As for role of the Press you can only expect to get coverage in the Press about your own virtues after there has been an attack in your virtues. In other words the press or media is interested in battles not peace.

You can, as a public enterprise, demonstrate that you give value for money only, when in the first place, you know your job and are working efficiently. You cannot do this if you yourself are not aware whether you are efficient or not. So you must convince the public which is criticizing you for your services and prices that what you are giving is good value. In case of inefficiency the fault is most probably due to bad structure, inferior communication or wrong attitudes. Structure is capable of study. Communication is a problem which can never be solved but it could always be improved. It is very important and could be explained in terms of ‘feedback’.

You must know what is coming up from the bottom, otherwise you the public enterprise, will never be able to answer public criticism since it seems to be a common factor in the fate of public corporations that they will always be attacked, public corporations must take deliberate steps of policy to defend themselves in advance against the accusations which will inevitably be made and that defence ought not be wholly one of repelling attacks. It ought to be one of constructive contribution to the dialogue which goes on in society about progress towards a better future.

Not infrequently, the only certain outcome of ‘more controls’ policy is to inhibit initiative, stultify growth and reduce the propensity to take risks. Many such control systems might seem to commit the error of ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ through inhibiting manager’s development. Public enterprise managers might be deprived of freedom of experimentation and the opportunity for inventing new ways of doing things.

Only through such actions freedoms, reinforced by adequate feed-back can learning take place. And management development is essentially a process of learning through actual practice, in the face of new problems and new situations.

The need is for an attitude of reasonable humility and avoidance of ostentation. The consequence of this basic attitude of humility is that you must always make a full explanation of the facts of your business, and if possible before they come into question by the public. It is not enough to establish self-justification. When you are criticized you must look at the facts. In this process, which is essentially one of public relations, all possible available media should be used to properly as an effective tool of public education and information. Top management should be well-briefed. They should not be afraid of aggressive interviewer.

There is a wide range of public corporations with different objectives, and we need guarding against lumping of corporations together.

‘Timelines’ is the essence of public corporations and ‘Rightness is the essence of a Government Department. Public Corporations need understanding and support from the Government rather than absolute independence or autonomy. Three essentials for public corporations are: cohesiveness; sense of movement and sense of responsibility. An attempt must be made to convince the consumer that he/she is getting the money’s worth. Explanation to the criticism should be worked as gently as possible to give least possible offence. There was need for an environment of trust between these bodies and the public. Public enterprises enjoyed the unique opportunity to make the best use of their autonomy. They could bring about improvement in their budgeting and personnel system. They can set new standards of operations.

The PIA was different in contrast to other semi-autonomous bodies. In the very nature of its working certain amount of specification was bound to develop and had developed in the PIA; for example, certain aspects like Flight operations, Engineering etc. had to be dealt with by specialists. Furthermore the organization had to compete with other international airlines – a factor unique to the corporation. High morale and motivation was emphasized in the personnel system of the PIA. It was acquired mainly through involvement of all the personnel in various phases of development through advisory panels and other such devices. Here and there outstanding individuals, had brought Public Corporations to limelight but these institutions in their own right had not secured their rightful place in the economy of the country. On matters relating to policy formulation the decision of the government was final.

The Pakistan International Airlines Corporation is a valuable national asset. It needs reinventing and strengthening to secure this public enterprise with rich experience. The effort should be to turn around and improve the PIA and feel proud of this institution. Reinventing PIA is the solution of the problem. We must keep it as a public corporation. The public sentiment is also in favour of not privatizing this great institution. The need is to make the Airline competitive and attractive under professional leadership, without political interference.

The government needs to have vision and understanding of the role of a national carrier (a public corporation) in the overall economic and social activity. Vested interests should stop damaging the image of PIA any further.