Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour lost no opportunity for favourable publicity by holding a press conference to announce that the employees and pensioners of Pakistan Railways would get paid after a cash injection, ordered by the President. This brought to an end the crisis, which began this month and which subsequently led to a crippling disruption of Railway services. Though an assurance was made, there has been no explanation of how exactly the payments will be made. Railways remain the cheapest means of transport and the livelihood of millions depends upon it delivering them to their destination. Not just that, but it also plays a vital role in national defence, being essential for the timely movement of men and material in times of crisis, including war. Therefore, Mr Bilour should not be so casual while speaking of shutting down a national asset. Such news can only be heard with delight by our eastern neighbour, who will no doubt be enjoying the predicament that our Railways has found itself in. At the same time, it should not be ignored that under the present circumstances, when our sovereignty is violated daily, the fears of full-fledged invasion do not seem so far fetched, especially as these threats are regularly given vent in reports in the foreign press. At such a time of national crisis, the collapse of the Railways will require the Armed Forces to constitute a contingency plan in case the facility is no longer reliable for defence purposes in their eyes. Making the crisis worse is the fact that it is taking place just ahead of the happy occassion of Eidul Azha, when large numbers of people move around the country, preferring to do so by rail, as a result of which special trains are usually run on the occasion. Mr Bilour's argument that neither Afghanistan nor Saudi Arabia have railways, is a feeble one at best and at worst amounts to no argument at all. Nor should the nation be subjected to it again. As the millions of waiting passengers showed, Pakistan Railways, properly managed and efficiently run, possesses enough of a market to become profitable once again, if run as an efficient and profitable organisation. It is not too much to expect that recent crisis should see some heads rolling, however, as often happens, what ought to happen seldom does. However, Railways is too valuable a national asset, to be allowed to close down, something which its own Minister should not be threatening the President with.