For over five decades, PIA has provided citizens of Pakistan with a vital passenger and logistic air link. But the pity is that persistent political intervention, corruption and cronyism has destroyed this vital national asset. If TSA tasked with security at US airports in post 9-11 era, goes ahead with restrictions to screen all cargo and passenger baggage loaded on every PIA flight in Manchester, this airline’s Trans-Atlantic operation will become virtually unviable. Reports of similar screening in UK and other European airports where PIA flights operate will sound the death knell for this airline. All this damage has been done because our ruling elite want to evade payment of air freight, or contents of unaccompanied baggage. This will involve 6 to 7 hours more ground time along with other additional expenses such as parking, loading/unloading etc. While we can blame the US, it would help us if we confess our own criminal negligence that has finally landed us into this mess. Have we forgotten that during previous tenure of PPP, the airline was reported to be transporting restricted artifacts on flights to London, in violation of ICAO laws, for decorating Surrey Mansion. Even a case was registered against the accused, who in 2009 was appointed as MD of PIA.

In 2009-2010 onwards, PIA run by a crony, was warned by TSA at JFK for shipping unaccompanied cargo not listed on Load Manifest, with no identification documents vis-à-vis shippers’ name, name of recipient, or contents of shipment. In one such incident, after repeated warnings, the local security officer at JFK was caught red handed and detained. It is also a fact that PIA was strictly warned in writing that any further violation may lead to cancellation of landing rights and other heavy penalties. This mysterious cargo either belonged to VIPs, top airline executives, or PIA local staff posted in New York. The bad news is that since these verbal and written warnings have not heeded, TSA has decided to inspect all cargo and baggage at Manchester to prevent any carriage of un-manifested cargo and baggage that can pose a security threat to them.

GULL ZAMAN,

Peshawar, April 19.