"PIA cannot continue to be a white elephant and a burden on taxpayers" The Friday Times, Plot No 52-53, N-Block, Main Guru Mangat Road, Gulberg II, Lahore, Pakistan. 042.35779186; Fax: 042.35779186, email: tft@thefridaytimes.com *Letters must carry addresses ...


Passengers first


PIA needs to be restored as a commercial organisation dedicated to serve ‘revenue passengers’, instead of being reduced to a welfare job provider to political cronies or unqualified offspring of ruling elite and certain employees with clout. It cannot continue to be a white elephant and a burden on taxpayers. Employees irregularly employed in violation of merit or those who submitted fake degrees and are ghost employees involved in corruption, smuggling and pilferage should be sacked as per rules.  Even when PIA’s serviceable fleet was reduced to fewer than 18 aircrafts in 2013, recruitment continued and salaries increased, while losses peaked to an all-time high.

The vested interests of those in power and the men of their choice in positions of authority from 2005 onward have served to give a lion’s share to Gulf-based airlines and in 2016, PIA carried only 24% of international passenger traffic originating from Pakistan.

The manner in which cartels were allowed to be formed, comprising a few travel agents, created artificial shortages leading to such irregularities as fleecing pilgrims. Procurement contracts for supply of technical spare parts and flight kitchen ended being given to vendors of ill repute or companies owned by family members of powerful employees and executives. Few employees with a criminal record and history of financial indiscipline were promoted.

Political interference and cronyism seem to be a compulsion of every government that considers state-owned corporations as spoils of war, not national assets. Why should every government insist on posting their cronies to the USA, UK, Paris, Jeddah, UAE etc., and blame others when revenues decline.

Not content with the damage done to PIA, the PML-N management gave more traffic rights to Gulf-based airlines, which created more over capacity. As if this was not enough, more aircrafts were leased without any business plans and training for pilots and engineers, which further escalated total operating cost, pushing the airline towards bankruptcy.

Aneela Chandio,



SOS banking


Earning money through legitimate means is quite difficult in Pakistan. Despite the country being labeled the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, some major laws in Pakistan don’t comply with Islamic laws. Bank interest rates in the West and most non-Muslim countries are way below the interest rate that is being offered by banks in Pakistan. In layman terms, the profit interest rates offered by Pakistani banks are between 4%-10% (depending on duration of deposit), as compared to western and developed countries where it is somewhere between 1%-2%.

I am a moderate Muslim and for many readers I might sound like an extremist, but our religion teaches us the complete way of living from birth till death and it has strictly denounced earning through bank interests and earning money from lending money. A conventional bank’s 80% earnings are from loans and banks earn huge amounts of money from these loans, which are a huge burden on individuals, corporations and organisations. At the time of giving loan, they state an interest rate, which sounds lesser, but if we calculate the annual realistic interest rate, it comes out to be around 25%, which is horrid.

Islamic banking is a somewhat safer way of earning money, but the problem remains; they replace the term ‘interest’ with ‘profit earned’ from trading, as they state their profit before a deal has been matured and the buyer owns any particular product. Secondly, Islamic banks don’t lend liquid cash to any individual or institution.

Farooq Azhar Khawaja


Unga address


All eyes remained glued to their television sets throughout the address of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the United Nations General Assembly ((UNGA) on September 21, 2016.

The consensus across every segment of the Pakistani society, vis-à-vis the address, is that the PM has effectively highlighted the Kashmir issue at the world forum. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly asserted that the long-pending Kashmir issue, a bone of contention between ever-belligerent India and its neighbor Pakistan for almost seven decades now, must be resolved, on a priority basis, according to the UN Resolution of 1948.

Urging the world body to prevail on India to allow its fact-finding mission to visit occupied Kashmir, to corroborate the ongoing Indian atrocities against the unarmed and innocent people of that region, couldn’t have been more appropriate. Denial on the part of India to grant this request of the United Nations, or for that matter of any other country of the world, would expose India’s ill-intent and confirm the continuing Indian vandalism and brutalities in held Kashmir; a heartrending scenario that the international community continues to watch across the world media every day.

The premier’s offer to India for talks on all bilateral issues, particularly the critical issue of Kashmir, reflects the magnanimity of Pakistan and its sincere desire to have cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with that country. However, this offer must not sidetrack the main issue of Kashmir. It is a plain fact that no peace could ever be established between the two warring nations until the core issue of Kashmir is resolved.

The world body (UN) and the United States of America (USA) and its allies must not only take immediate cognizance of the Kashmir issue but also mobilize world opinion in favor of the subjugated and battered people of occupied Kashmir. Pakistan must also further bolster its efforts in this regard. Emphasis must be laid on immediate resolution of the Kashmir problem, through a plebiscite held in the occupied territory. The sooner the world community realizes the truth that in resolution of the Kashmir issue lies the establishment of peace not only between India and Pakistan, but the entire region, the better it would be for all the stake holders.

M Fazal Elahi,



Brain drain


Pakistan faces two existential threats to its evolvement as an economically viable and sovereign modern welfare state envisioned by Jinnah. These are the unchecked brain drain and flight of capital from this country. The state has outsourced its primary responsibility of education and health to the private sector, while it has failed to enforce vital regulatory controls and financial discipline because of the myopic vision, greed and vested interests of those who have held power.

Ever wonder why talented sons of this soil were denied due recognition and not given financial assistance by the state to help in making distinctive achievements for the country?  Today our sole defense strategy is based upon nuclear capability, which was started during the tenure of the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto by a group of talented scientists and engineers and yet instead of recognizing their services, ZAB was judiciously murdered. There is no bigger asset for a country than its human resources. With the state having devolved itself of this most important function, the imparting of education, what chances do we have of nurturing another genius like Dr Salam who was educated in government schools?

Malik Ali,


Bring it home


For the average Pakistani, the Pakistan Super League has been a welcome break from the nonstop battering of bad news that viewers glued to their TV sets are subjected to on a daily basis. Not only has it lit up the imagination of a younger generation that was deprived of Pakistani cricket but it also seems to be on the verge of generating significant revenues for the Pakistan Cricket Board. One hopes that this will benefit the younger talent in our country that previously had no platform to hone their skills or showcase their talents. Some innings by our youngsters are already proving to be very exciting. Hopefully these youngsters will continue on the right path and becoming great players of the future.  Another key thing to note is the number of great international players playing the tournament. Surely their presence around our youngsters in the locker room will be something that greatly benefits the ranks of the younger cricket players that Pakistan is now producing. This may result in avoiding an episode where a youngster is lured into doing the wrong things like was the case with Muhammad Amir.

Last but perhaps most importantly. If by the next edition of the tournament we could perhaps manage to host a few matches on Pakistani soil, it may help break the impression that international players have that Pakistan is an unsafe place for cricket. This may help the PCB over time bring the whole tournament to Pakistan, as should be the case from the get go. This I think is perhaps the best potential benefit that can be derived from the Pakistan Super League.

The PCB needs to be commended for its boldness in initially coming up with the idea and despite some hiccups here and there, the board has done a very good job of executing the tournament. Here’s to more such tournaments that us Pakistanis get to enjoy and feel proud of, and here’s to the tournament coming home to Pakistan at the earliest, followed by international matches that can restore the greatness of Pakistani cricket, in Pakistan.

Bilal Anwar,



Saber rattling


Reference heightened tensions and saber rattling by India following the current unrest in Indian-held Kashmir, and attack on Uri military base. What India needs to know is that the Pakistan Army today is led by a professional general who comes from a family of dedicated soldiers who have laid down their lives for the motherland. With both India and Pakistan having nuclear capability of mutual destruction, it should serve as deterrence for war.

Sanity needs to prevail on both sides of the border. India needs to accept the reality and existence of Pakistan as a sovereign independent state and curb down on Hindu fundamentalism practiced by the likes of Shiv Sena. It needs to follow the vision of Mahatma Gandhi, otherwise it will continue to face insurgencies that grip numerous states located on its borders.

PM Nawaz Sharif has delivered a very balanced speech at the UN in which he has highlighted the crux of issues between two nuclear neighbors. Destiny and fate have placed both our countries geographically as neighbors. Pakistan’s political leadership and our establishment need to redraft priorities of our foreign policy with emphasis on good relations within the region, especially our neighbors and should realize that religion alone cannot be the sole priority on which relations with foreign countries can be based, nor should we be willing to get entangled in proxy wars of others as was done by Zia and Musharraf. We should not allow any private armed groups and militias on our territory.

There is too much poverty in both countries and they need to focus on economic growth, while cracking down on massive corruption and unchecked black economy, especially in Pakistan with the cancer accompanying money laundering. Pakistan and its leadership must continue crackdown against terrorism with an iron hand. We need to eliminate and block funding of terrorists within our borders.

Tariq A,


Dug up


It is said that if we witness the chronicles of Pakistan, whenever the PML-N has come into power after getting the required mandate, all the architects, construction companies and construction goods manufacturers feel eager to instigate their earning season. Previously, Lahore was symbolised as the city of gardens, but now we all can easily come to the point that this city is actually the city of flyovers. Roughly calculating, there are almost twenty plus flyovers all over Lahore and the longest flyover of Pakistan, the Bus Rapid Transit System Track, is under construction.

Moreover, for these all projects nowadays, almost the whole city is dug up. If we look at the rapid construction of the city, our ocular perceivers usually fill with hope of a bright future look for our city. Our city will have its own rapid transport system, theme park, eye catching beauty etc., but when we focus on our desires, then we also want and desperately need a bright forthcoming for our kids, not in the form of a glamorous city or smart systems, but a place where they can have financial satisfaction and can also educate their children.

Shaheer S Malik,




The state of Bahawalpur was established by Nawab Mohammad Bahawal Khan Abbasi. After partition, the state of Bahawalpur signed an agreement with the government of Pakistan on 14 October 1955, according to which the state of Bahawalpur joined Pakistan.

At the time of independence, the state of Bahawalpur was the richest state of the subcontinent. Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan V gifted one Rolls Royce to the king of Saudi Arabia when he visited Pakistan. That was the first Rolls Royce in the history of Saudi Arabia. Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan V also gifted one Rolls Royce to Quaid-i-Azam. In that car, Jinnah went to take the oath as the first governor general of Pakistan, and the army of Bahawalpur gave a guard of honor to the Quaid-i-Azam.

After the establishment of Pakistan, the country faced many difficulties and troubles, through all of which Bahawalpur supported Islamabad. Bahawalpur also supported Pakistan the moment the country was going to making its currency notes. Bahawalpur is also known as the city of palaces. Bahawalpur is the 13th most populous city of Pakistan; the current population of Bahawalpur is 6,500,000. Bahawalpur has rendered many sacrifices for Pakistan, but nowadays Bahawalpur is known as a backward area of the country, and the government is not interested in promoting the beloved city. The Quaid-i-Azam solar park is in Bahawalpur, but its citizens continue facing the worst load shading. Bahawalpur has only one university, which is not enough for such a populated city. The government should make another university or increase the number of seats in each department; there are also no job opportunities, so educated youngsters are increasingly leaving Bahawalpur, seeking jobs in other cities. Add to that the aewerage system of the circular road, which is as bad as can be. In Cholistan, citizens and animals drink water from the same pond. The government should take a keen interest for the development of Bahawalpur, and the government should remember the sacrifices rendered by the city.

M Asadullah,



Dying in Thar


It is painful to say that recently seven more children have died in drought-hit Thar, with the number of children dying in the district because of malnutrition and other causes since October last year rising to at least 150. Moreover, the death toll of children in the district has risen to 188 since January, and among them more than 120 children were brought to hospitals for treatment, but the government and health authorities were unable to save their lives. It is a blatant example of injustice being done to the poor. The government it seems has left the poor to fend for themselves, and has even taken away their basic right to live a humble life in Pakistan.

So, is humanity doomed? Shouldn’t we be ashamed of such injustices with those people who do not have enough food to feed their families? Shouldn’t we be ashamed of the fact that more than half of our population lives below the poverty line? Instead of giving them food and providing them shelter, we have made fun of their lives and continue counting the death tolls of small children who are dying day-by-day. The people of Thar have nothing to eat and they await the government to provide them with their fundamental needs, but it seems that our government just doesn’t care.

So, it is my humble request to the government of Sindh to provide food and shelter to Thar’s poor people, who are crying and dying every day, and give them facilities of health in order to save their lives.

Shakeel Phullan,