Pakistan’s flag carrier needs a radical overhaul. The Karachi accident is the last reminder

Dozens killed after Pakistani flight crashes 

The accident was a horrible tragedy at a time when the country is fighting the growing toll of the pandemic. But as with most things in Pakistan, it is also political.

The Pakistani national carrier has been suffering for over a decade and now it is passive of over 400 billion SEK ($ 2.48 billion).
The institution has long suffered from accusations of corruption and patronage. While the global blockade in response to the coronavirus went into effect in March, Bloomberg has identified PIA as the most likely airline to fail within two years.
Subsequent attempts to renew the airline have been mistreated by poor management. The airline has had nine CEOs in the past 12 years. The appointment of the current CEO, Arshad Mahmood Malik, has been controversial, sparking legal battles and further compromising Pakistan’s civilian-military balance.
Malik is an air marshal of the Pakistani Air Force. A provincial court in December banned Malik from continuing to play the role based on a petition filed by the PIA Senior Personnel Association, claiming that he lacked the necessary qualifications and experience. During the February appeal hearings, the Pakistani Supreme Court also claimed that a member of the aviation service should not direct the national carrier, citing business continuity problems in the event that the air marshal is called into service. The courtroom also stressed the need for professional airline management.
But in March, the Supreme Court ruled that Malik could continue in the mail after the attorney general intervened to assure the bench that he would not be called back by the air force. In restoring Malik, the main judge He watched about the dilapidated condition of the PIA fleet, and asked – presumably, it turns out – who would be responsible for any unfortunate accident.

The tensions between staff and PIA management are likely to be exacerbated by the tragic accident. The Pakistan Airlines Pilot Association challenged the composition of a four-member team appointed by the government to investigate the crash, which includes three Pakistani Air Force officers – two from the Air Accident Investigation Committee and one from the aviation security.

These officers rank at the level of Marshal Air Malik, raising questions about their impartiality and independence. Calls to include international aviation experts and commercial pilots who are familiar with the aircraft to join the investigation team are growing.

The government will feel the pressure to launch an investigation into the PK-8303 incident, and not just because the families of the victims deserve answers. The administration of Prime Minister Imran Khan must demonstrate that his support for military management for the national aircraft carrier was a reasonable decision, and not another example of kowtowing for the country’s seemingly omnipotent armed forces.

The collapse, particularly in the midst of the global aviation crisis, will revive the longstanding debate on the privatization of PIA. The sale of the airline was a subsequent condition IMF packages for Pakistan, and will undoubtedly be at the top of the list of requirements for any debt relief plan emerging from the pandemic. But it’s a politically toxic topic, mainly because of the airline’s alleged airline culture, but also because of the negative public sentiment that privatization would generate.
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This is because, in a typically Pakistani turn, the airline remains an immense source of national pride. Pakistanis – expats in particular – sing the praises of PIA. The friendly cabin crew – “fantastic people to fly with”, as the motto says – spicy meals in flight and the suggestive sitar music conveyed are still celebrated as an extension of the homeland.

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And PIA’s journey is perceived as synonymous with Pakistan’s trajectory. Launched in 1955, the airline announced the growing confidence of a newly independent nation. His commercial successes and advertising campaigns in the 1960s helped put Pakistan’s name on the global map.

No discussion of Pakistan’s heyday is complete without mentioning the fact that French stylist Pierre Cardin designed the clothes of the PIA hostesses in 1966. The straight trousers he introduced, nicknamed “PIA pajamas”, quickly became a national fashion phenomenon .

The airline’s recent woes also echo Pakistan’s growing political and economic problems, and therefore remains a barometer of national morale. While loved ones aboard the PK-8303 await more information on the terrible accident, the nation waits with them.


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