It is to the credit of the late Nur Khan and the then federal government, which gave him a free hand, that PIA became profitable and began to invest in the hospitality business, an investment which compliments PIA’s assets in commercial aviation. Under his watch, PIA, which already owned hotels, acquired Hotel Roosevelt in 1978, in partnership with a Saudi Sheikh, on a 20-year lease with an option to purchase. It is also an unfortunate fact that Nur Khan resigned within months of the Zia junta takeover because of political interference within PIA and Hotel Roosevelt, which after a legal battle, the airline managed to acquire in 2000, becoming the sole owner.

Nur Khan’s legacy became a liability with every successive government, each of which abused it. Why did the present government go public on the issue of pilots’ licenses, at a time when PIA was faced with a tragic crash, involving PK8303, in which 97 innocent people lost their lives, while simultaneously allowing controversial individuals to sell Hotel Roosevelt, at a time when the market is down? Transparency International has already raised serious issues about Hotel Roosevelt.

Both Hotel Roosevelt and Scribe are expensive assets, which are exclusively owned by the taxpayers of Pakistan and if they are to be sold, it should be done ensuring that those involved have no conflict of interest, nor are they mired in controversies.