THE PML-N has been crying hoarse about the financial crisis facing the country and the need for austerity since its arrival on Constitution Avenue. Hence, its suggestion for a third airport for the capital when the second one is still not operational appears incomprehensible. Islamabad needs a new airport. The existing shabby premises are outdated and consist of a small building where buses are still used to transport passengers to the aircraft; meanwhile, the parking lot is always overflowing and passengers have to battle their way through the mess called immigration and customs. But one new airport — already delayed and ridiculously over budget — should be enough. More importantly, only once it is complete and running, can a firm conclusion be drawn as to whether or not another airport is needed. And if there is a design fault with the new airport, as has been claimed, why cannot it be fixed? Perhaps it is to get the answers to some of these questions that the opposition has filed a notice in parliament.
At present, with this government’s penchant for providing little information as it goes about running the country, it can only be assumed that the prime minister’s proposal stems from his and from the Punjab chief minister’s obsession with grand ‘development’ projects. The story that originally reported this proposal added that the prime minister also spoke of building a road such as the Shaikh Zayed Road, the main artery running through Dubai. This road would connect the airport to Islamabad and, like its Dubai counterpart, would have high-rise buildings on both sides. Once again there were few details of how this high-rise paradise would be achieved — the PML-N excels at grandiose dreams of the symbols of economic success but tends to fall short of achieving them. The government would be well advised to wait for some hard facts and figures on the need for this ‘third airport’ before beginning work on what at the moment sounds like a hare-brained scheme.