The national flag carrier, once pride of nation, has been driven to financial insolvency by every successive government, ever since Zia ul Haq took over. In absence of oversight by CAA, dominated by corrupt mediocrity, reduced to dumping ground for retired uniformed officers and cronies etc, irregularities and compromises in lease of aircraft and procurement has translated into operational losses which haunt PIA. Recent report submitted to SC reveals that in 2011 CAA allowed Bhoja Air to restart its operation without obtaining an Airworthiness Certificate, leading to fatal crash on inaugural flight, exposes level of corruption within it. PIA’s rise during ZAB’s tenure who appointed Saigol and Nur Khan, giving them free hand to make appointments, recruitment and commercial decision without political or bureaucratic interference, other than audit, became too much of a temptation to resist by Zia and other powerful stake holders. 

Pakistan’s ruling elite, captive to their conflicts of interest and commercial ventures located in Gulf sacrificed PIA’s commercial interests giving undue favors to airlines based there. Pilferages and kickbacks in procurement contracts and leasing of aircraft, coupled with diluting PIA’s share of Gulf traffic and gross mismanagement both in airline and its subsidiary PIA Investment Limited which owns expensive hotels Roosevelt in Manhattan and Scribe in Paris have drained airline’s reserves. PIAIL totally owned by government, has never held its Board of Directors meeting in Pakistan, nor its accounts and balance sheet subjected to scrutiny by Auditor General of Pakistan. Political cronies and bureaucrats nominated to BOD of both PIA and PIAIL have rarely performed their role as custodians of taxpayer’s interest. Can any sane person justify why Musharraf or PPP and PML(N) government’s should appoint cronies to head key international station in Gulf, Mid East, UK, USA, Canada, France, Spain etc. Obviously when in power it is ulterior motives other than protocol. 

If revenues have declined and costs escalated inspite of over 70% average load factor on key routes, than those who made appointments are responsible. PIAIL is headed by same executives for past two decades, some of them past age of retirement. Unless PIA cleanses its workforce and executive corridors of political cronies, including fake degree holders and scores involved in financial irregularities, this airline will never be able to recover. Discipline must be enforced alongwith strict accountability. Cosmetic changes of uniform or aircraft livery, reflect incompetence of those at helm and their disassociation with client profile . 

MALIK TARIQ ALI,  

Lahore, July 4.