LET’S face it. A visit to the bar by a good many Pakistanis just before they board a flight back to their country is an integral part of the itinerary. In fact, a number of those keen on fighting the conservative image of the country worldwide would not mind volunteering for the quintessentially liberal act. But what can the passengers do when the stars conspire against them and the bottle finds its way into the wrong hands? This can land them in trouble. The latest: Pakistan could end up paying a heavy price for a pilot who reported drunk for duty in the UK. Being more than four times over the limit, he was described by the West Yorkshire Police, in correct, traditional British English, as someone carrying out “an activity ancillary to an aviation function while impaired by drink”. The pilot was promptly suspended, as, for some added effect, were three PIA stewards who were reported for ‘indecent’ behaviour in a separate incident in Manchester.
Plagued by mismanagement and debt issues, the national carrier has of late been so generous in providing people with funny, often ignominious news that it has created its own following. Bits about PIA’s adventures are so believable that not even the conspiracy watchers find it worth their while to try and come up with a patriotic theory concerning the latest cases against Pakistanis on foreign soil. Since many of those following the PIA saga are not disinterested in its affairs, there’s all the more reason why a PIA with at least some tipsy pilots and indecent stewards should be rid of its grand national-carrier label and handed over to the stern care of private hands.
The urgency stems from a desire to quell a constant source of national embarrassment.