PRESIDENT Asif Ali Zardari should be complimented for using a commercial flight on his way back home. However the appreciation cannot be unqualified because the flight, scheduled to arrive in Lahore from London, was diverted to Islamabad and reached Lahore late putting the passengers to great inconvenience. One hopes, though, that the good precedent of travelling on a regular flight would be followed by other government functionaries. It is also good to hear that Mr Zardari is taking a routine flight on his forthcoming visit to the US and staying at Hotel Roosevelt owned by the Pakistan government. As he would be accompanied by only three ministers and two officials, one also hopes that the old habit of the head of state and chief executives taking huge entourages including members of their extended families as well as large media teams causing a big hole in the national exchequer would come to end. Setting such norms of behaviour is certainly welcome and should be followed by other members of his government. Unfortunately, so far its promise to practice austerity measures goes, not much has been done: the governors, chief ministers and ministers continue to travel in large convoys and use luxury planes purchased from the hapless taxpayers money and that also in precious foreign exchange. Comparisons can be made with the previous regime. Former President Musharraf immediately after he took over used commercial flights giving preference to the economy class. That certainly earned him a ringing praise all around but unfortunately the practice died away soon. Not only General Musharraf but also some cabinet members would feel no scruples in wasting away millions on their luxury trips to western countries. According to reports ex-premier Shaukat Aziz's junkets cost no less than Rs 750 million. Given the tendency of our rulers to misuse the public office and spend funds, which are allocated for the betterment of populace, to satisfy their whims, it remains to be seen how the government would deal with this financially disastrous habit. For starters the federal as well as the provincial governments should sell off their not so insignificant in numbers airplane fleets and their functionaries get used to flying commercial.