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 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.
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.
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.
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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