Theories about reasons of the crash and allegations of the culpable role of influential persons in the resumption of Bhoja Airlines’ flights, suspended in 2000 due to the carrier’s poor financial health, have continued to fly across the country. The nation remained engrossed in the aftermath of the incident; scenes of inconsolable grief and mourning were witnessed at places where the remains of the dead arrived for burial. One had hoped that the commission of inquiry set up by the government would unravel the mystery. But the commission’s constitution, with Justice (retd) Zahid Hussain, whose political commitment to the PPP is no secret, has added another dimension to the tragic occurrence. The question being posed by the grieving friends and relatives and the shocked public is whether the judicial commission is an attempt at presenting a façade of impartiality just to dampen the feelings of anger directed at the government and its agencies for their criminal neglect of the precious lives of the citizenry? The motives might be sincere and not to cover up any possible shady deed in the re-launching of the airlines, but the baggage of corruption and misgovernance that the political setup of the day carries would inevitably induce thoughts of an underhand deal. This is reflected in Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s eagerness to pursue the question of who was responsible for granting permission to Bhoja Airlines, which, he accused, had misappropriated millions of rupees, to start operating again. He was talking to the media during the course of a visit to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences at Islamabad on Saturday where he had gone to condole with the relatives of the victims.

It is a sad reality, based on experience, that the people no longer have any illusion about the fate of commissions’ findings; first, they are not made public. Secondly, the recommendations are never implemented and the case in point is the investigation done into the causes of the AirBlue crash that occurred nearly two years ago. Chief Justice Lahore High Court Azmat Saeed has given vent to not only his own but the people’s frustration and dismay when he remarked on Saturday that there was no point in constituting inquiry commissions if their recommendations were not to be put into effect. There are confusing reports about the time that the inquiry could take to complete, with the Civil Aviation Authority predicting that it might take a year, while Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira indicating a much longer timeframe. Similarly, with the compensation; no clear-cut picture has emerged whether it is the Airlines or any other institution that has to make the payment.

All said and done, the scale of tragedy following on the heels of the Siachen disaster, equally grievous, should serve as too compelling a force to hide the truth. It is the call of the hour that not only the investigation should be completed in the shortest possible time, but also its findings made public and recommendations implemented without fear or favour.