October 99 Unfinished Agenda
Turning around of PIA by Rafique Saigol and Nur Khan to a leading profitable airline of Asia by 1977, with routes extended to four continents became too much of temptation to resist for every government.
Piecemeal erosion of national airline has reduced it from zenith of its days of glory when PIA set up airlines of Singapore, Malta, Saudi Arabia, Dubai etc to its present dismal state, on verge of technical insolvency. It is a consequence of viscous mindset where state assets are treated like spoils of war. Its routes acquired over years are up for grabs by regional state owned airlines based in Gulf and Turkey, or specific private airlines, because of ruling elite’s conflicts of interest.
When it is said that it is not business of the state to do business, the capability by state to acquire tools for regulating an industry precedes privatization to ensure zero tolerance for compromises on safety. Private airlines must have internationally approved insurance coverage to compensate next of kin of all those who perish in fatal air-crashes. Unfortunately even after years, the victims of crashes involving Pakistani private airlines have not received due compensation. The unfinished 1998-99 agenda of former Chairman PIA who in partnership with Saifur Rehman planned to close down and takeover airline was interrupted on 12 October 1999. This tenure witnessed the controversial aviation deal concluded when B747-300 were bought from Cathay Pacific without engines, for which airline was paying hourly per hour use.
This country has witnessed deliberate planned erosion of Pakistan Railways, once the most profitable, reliable and cost effective mode of transportation, when a dictator motivated by ulterior motives decided to finish its cargo goods train network by outsourcing it to NLC etc. Railway’s vast expensive real estate property has been systematically plundered by successive governments. What followed thereafter is for everybody in this country to see.
Although Railway Cargo served as safe logistic tool, which could be effectively secured and monitored along designated route to move bulk of essential items for security services, transportation of gasoline and other items from Karachi to Khyber, it was systematically destroyed. Revenue earned from cargo subsidized passenger rail services. Ever since Railway Cargo services were cut down this country has witnessed spread of illegal weapons, drugs, pilferage in furnace oil, gasoline etc.
Lahore, October 30.