This refers to the letter by Wing Commander (r) Ahmed Shah Jan (March 27). The writer, I believe, has been my worthy colleague at the PAF Academy, Risalpur.
An English teacher by profession, he writes well. But on this occasion I have not been able to understand what cavil he had at my letter on the subject (March 11), when he said “a foot soldier should be getting twice as much as an army officer because his chances of dying in a war are far greater than officers performing non-active and risk-free roles”.
The comparison appears odious. It is not only the extent of exposure to risk but the substantive value of the life lost.
As regards the numbers, foot soldiers are employed in far greater numbers in a war than army officers, hence their casualties are more.
So what is the catch? But the disparity in the pay and perks between an officer and a foot soldier in the context of the army and more particularly in the context of PAF between a pilot and a ground officer or airmen in the context of PAF is not only due to the risk factor but also due to the element of demand and supply.
Look at the rate of attrition of pilots. From the time they report for training to the time they become senior officers, a large number of them either perish or grounded or otherwise eliminated.
An operational pilot is, therefore, not only highly skilled but hard to come by, like gold dust. This explains the disparity between a ground branch officer and a pilot.
However, it is true that the disparity in other service matters is at times unnecessarily stretched too far to the chagrin of the ground branch officer. But this requires a separate discussion.
Group Capt (r) S.M. ANWAR Karachi