PIA and Railway, like other state owned corporations, are majority owned by government of Pakistan. All losses, loans and liabilities are directly borne by taxpayers, while hundreds of thousands of poor are denied basic welfare by state on pretext of funds scarcity. In spite of vast potential for revenue growth the state owned national air and rail transport industry stands destroyed by systematic pilferage during past decade by controversial managements dominated by cronyism and mediocrity, while state failed to enforce financial discipline and regulation. Yet as the tenure of this government and parliament is nearing its end, there is a mad rush for procurement with kickbacks, totally unmindful of financial burden these would have. Surprisingly both NA and Senate are silent and so is media. Perhaps release of development funds have sealed lips of elected parliamentarians, leaving it to TIP to raise objection over PPRA violations.

PIA with liabilities and losses exceeding their assets is technically insolvent and except for Hotel Roosevelt and Hotel Scribe everything including future sales and revenues are pledged as collateral. The airline plans to cancel numerous routes, such as Chicago flight, effective 28 March, yet expansion of routes is being cited as an excuse for this controversial deal made in haste worth $1.5 Billion with options for 5 more B777. Instead of a qualified team that should have been appointed, PIA has been handed over to cronies, with disastrous financial pilferage and losses. It is this same team that termed signing of parts procurement agreement with an unknown Transworld FZE as an achievement, although what followed was grounding of aircraft for lack of spare parts. Nobody in government dares to ask what was the fate of Business Plans submitted in the past when PIA placed orders for B777 and ATRs and why the targets were not achieved, or leasing of aircraft for Haj and Umra, which were never utilized for that purpose.  

Pakistan Railway has again placed an order for 75 locomotives from Dong Feng Trading based in China, although it is same company which supplied Group 1 and Group 3 locomotives  during Musharraf tenure with Per Axle Loads of 23 Tons and 19.3 Tons instead of load limitations of 22 Tons and 17.5 Tons respectively. Today the national rail transport system is destroyed, yet both it and national exchequer are being overburdened although there is no more room for such financial waste.

ALI MALIK TARIQ,

Lahore, February 23.