I am the daughter of a man who served in PIA for 37 years

Published: February 9, 2016

Crew of a PIA Super Constellation (AP-AJZ) led by Capt. Raja Zia with Thailand’s royal couple at Dacca Airport, East Pakistan, on March 21, 1962. PHOTO: AHMED SAEED SIDDIQI'S COLLECTION

In wake of PIA’s possible privatisation, a lot of people have taken to social media to give their two cents worth. Fair enough, it is a debate of public interest. However, most of the statuses I have read are targeted towards PIA’s employees – not the organisation as a whole, but the employees alone.

Facebook statuses and subsequent comments have said things like,

“Good for nothing (employees)”,

“Useless employees”,

“They are being overpaid”, and

“Now who would want to lose a job which pays even when you are sleeping.”

I am the daughter of a man who served for 37 years in PIA.

All of my life, my father worked for the national airline and retired in 2010. Six years on, he is still passionate about the organisation. Many evenings, he is on the phone conversing with his former colleagues and friends about the inevitable doom of the airline and what could and should be done to rectify it.

My father does not fit any of the aforementioned generalised labels people have been very kind to pass. He worked hard for a living and he was loyal to the organisation. It is from my father that I learnt to work honestly and with complete dedication to any job I take. My father is an earnest man and he instilled the same values in my sisters and me. I am nowhere close to where I want to be in my career but my biggest strength is that I have never disappointed an employer.

So before you judge all employees by the same scale, let me ask you a question: How many of you are aware that every time the government changes, be it PML-N or PPP, the top management of PIA does too?

This is done in order to reflect the governing party. With a Punjabi government in power, PIA sees an influx of Punjabis all around and it’s the same with Sindhis when PPP wins an election.

I am not being overly righteous here, but surely, you should be made a general manager or a director based on your qualifications, achievements and merits rather than merely being associated to the prime minister, right?

Or maybe that’s just me.

These executives have come and gone with the country’s General Elections. I recall my father commenting on how people of various high positions don’t have the ability to construct a grammatically correct sentence in English, let alone understand the aviation industry. So yes, some employees are useless but they didn’t get the job based on merits. We all know how they got the job. If you want to blame somebody, question the government.

How many of you are aware of the lesser known or rather, more popularly forgotten fact that it was indeed PIA that helped to establish Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Somali Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Air Malta and Yemini. Today, Emirates is one of the leading airlines in the world. Yes, it was PIA’s “useless employees” who trained Emirates employees back in the day.

To reiterate, it is the government that has driven PIA to failure by placing incompetent men in high positions of significant importance and decision-making. Had they allowed for men like my father, and other honest men with experience in the organisation, to continue climbing the corporate ladder, PIA would still be one of the leading airlines today.

PIA has employed various people who are loyal to it. These loyalists have experienced PIA’s glory days and want to see them return. These employees include my father, his friends and countless others. For all those who are supporting PIA’s privatisation, remember Nawaz Sharif is doing it so he can sell it to his grand-daughter’s in-laws. It’s going to become one of their family’s businesses. You’re not going to benefit from it. It is a personal gain and a national loss.

When I asked my father his views on the possible privatisation, he commented saying,

“While we talk of privatisation, it is based on the presumption that those who will take over as the new management will honour merit, implement proper management policies, thereby avoiding cronyism and nepotism. The simple and honest fact is that these are biological traits which the public sector executives lack.

If our political leaders decide they will not use public sector resources to award or purchase loyalties of political workers and stop meddling in the running of PIA, it could benefit the airline. With liquidative contracts and just employment, PIA can perform smoothly after privatisation as well. PIA did prove to be lucrative till the 80s, even though it was a public sector organisation.

While discussing public sector functionality against privatisation, the only important factor is honesty and transparency. In the case of PIA, we have to make sure our financial advisors have expertise in the aviation industry.

PIA is an organisation in a developing country. It has done its best in order to provide jobs to the educated youth but this has been misused by politicians.”

When I asked my father about the 780 to one employee ratio circulating on social media, he said he was not absolutely certain about it. Whatever the ratio may be, I am sure it won’t be the ideal proportion. One must bear in mind, however, that many of the comparisons we are making are with airlines in developed countries that have a higher literacy rate as compared to Pakistan. These international airlines are not corrupted by political appointees disregarding merit.

Most business operations in Pakistan are frequently disrupted by power breakdowns, political strikes and so on. PIA has employed drivers and purchased vehicles to ensure their pilots and other crew members arrive on time and safely for their flight schedules. Is that not responsibility?

Oh, and the tax payer’s money – did you know that PIA has its own medical establishment? They have hospitals and clinics and all their employees (from peons to directors) get free medical and dental treatment along with their families. With PIA, you don’t have to be a manager to get your family treated for an illness, which I think is commendable given the inflation in Pakistan; even a clerk can afford decent medical treatment for his family.

To conclude, as I have digressed quite a bit, I am proud of my PIA background. I am proud that my father served the national airline. I am proud of my father and his friends. I am proud that there are innumerable employees who go to work relentlessly in order to make a difference in an airline which everyone is quick to judge and criticise. For if it was not for men like my father, this airline would have closed many years ago.

Do you think privatisation will benefit PIA and its employees?

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Saman Jafarey

Saman Jafarey

The author is a law graduate. She did her LL.B (Hons) from the University of London and LL.M in Commercial Law from the University of Hertfordshire.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • ajay gupta

    your father worked for the pia, like thousands of other dads. how does that give u a pia background?pia was his employer, not yours. this is not the army. no airline can rest on its past glory, they have to keep performing. not sure why u r batting for pia.Recommend

  • Tariq Nadeem

    One simply can’t conclude on PIA privatisation reading about a perspective from your family member being it’s employee. If you look through the lens of macro-economy of Pakistan major institutions have been privatised HBL, PTCL etc. Most of the consensus so far is that PIA has certainly been inefficient whether its operation, maintenance and finally its financial. It’s going down the hill , privatisation in history of Pakistan has created efficiency and it will do the same with PIA. It’s time of austerity every where, there should be equality in pay and amenities. PIA employee’s don’t need to fear if they are competent and diligent they will carry on with the new ownership rather dragging economy downwards in future. Privatisation is the best solution as way forward.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    Their are some good and some bad ones. The discussion is based on the current state of the Airline. When the Airline was going downhill the Employees were not pushed as they were getting the piece of the cake. Where were they when it mattered. They should have then raised their voice. Can’t keep on getting Dole outs for ever.Recommend

  • Pakeezah

    If you privatise it, 1. you won’t have an illiterate management, 2. even though you can’t guarantee PIA would reflect meritocracy after privatisation, it will reflect not be running on losses. When the onus is on a group of people, they make sure the organization is run properly. This will also make sure that the upper management doesnt change every election.Recommend

  • MJ

    Very well put together. I come from a family comprising of several PIA veterans. They were highly educated, hard working and honest. Nowadays when I go to the terminal, especially at Karachi, I am amazed at the incompetent, indifferent and uneducated folks who man the various functions. Be it PIA or Steel Mills, politically backed nominations for highest positions, as well as common workers have ruined these once profitable organizations.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I don’t blame you for sticking up for PIA and to quite some extent you are correct. I have said this before but I’ll say it again the PIA’s problems are not in the air…..nor entirely on the ground in Karachi……but in Islamabad. For those in Islamabad PIA is a mini Pakistan to be eaten away from the outside and the inside…….sensibly privatize this drain on the economy because restructuring it WILL NEVER happen.Recommend

  • Striver

    …and so are we, proud of your father and those who have worked for PIA of your father’s generation and before.

    That political parties are responsible for the downfall of PIA is a fact they and their cronies who paid to get jobs in PIA are not willing to accept.

    We need leaders. We have had enough of thieves and cronyism. We want professionals running PIA not fools with fake degrees.

    and you will SAVE PAKISTAN’s precious assetsRecommend

  • Yeller

    As you say, these very employees trained Emirates, Singapore airlines, Somali Airlines etc … IS THE VERY PROBLEM.
    They’re ancient!! people need to retire and corruption, illegal posts, entire rishtaydaar ka khandaan should stop. Recommend

  • Karachiwala

    @saman Jafarey

    The truth is, PIA is doomed…and yes by politicians.
    But i have a problem understanding these employee who are protesting…
    why now??
    why not you protested when 6000 employee were enrolled without merit?
    why not you protested when planes were treated as toys
    why not you protested when intentionally docking fees were increased which intrun reduced the number of traffic in transit at airports.

    I mean, its too late dear…its very late.Recommend

  • Naeem Khan, Kansas.US

    I agree with you
    totally, I have a child hood friend who has started to work for PIA
    in 1960s. I can vouch for the dedicated and competent employees of
    PIA. I know for sure that the political parties bring in their
    incompetent political hacks into this airline and has ruined it for
    decades. There was this PPP hack in New York City who I would not
    have even hired as a dog catcher for the city and he was given this
    Public Relations job in PIA’s New York office. This is only one
    example and I could give several examples. Nawaz Sharif has done his
    part to degrade the airline in the 90s and the same now and if he is
    to sell it to his family or his minions, there will be retribution,
    believe me. Also the PIA unions is so politicized that they can’t see
    beyond their interests, they have done tremendous damaged to this
    once a superb airline. I say off load the incompetent and political
    hacks from PIA and appoint management which has some merits to run
    this airline. Unfortunately I have also seen the Defense personal ,
    the politicians, the civilian bureaucrats and you name it , has
    misused the airline because some how they think they own the airline.
    They will travel in the economy class with their families and will
    switch to first class during the international flights while those
    who paid full price stay in their seats in the economy class. What
    is amazing is that the same very people flying on other international
    airlines pay the full price and dare not to ask for any favors, they
    know that they will not be entertained by the foreign owned airlines.
    This kind of behavior got to stop if PIA is going to be a viable
    airline. I would also advocate to sack those who instigated this
    strike and inflicted serious damage to the airline. Send them home
    and let them find jobs some where else.Recommend

  • Humza

    i think the author’s father seems to agree with the prevailing view and not with the author’s own viewsRecommend

  • privatize pia

    PIA staff are eating haram money! over paid disgusting service and on top of that they complain.

    privatize PIA and see how dramatically it improves!Recommend

  • sarmadsangi

    Saman Jafarey thanks for writing this! I couldn’t agree more.

    For others i would like to clear this general misconception that all employee’s are the same.

    Yes there are many political appointments etc but PIA has many highly technical stuff too. Especially when it comes to Engineering they have helped many airlines and till date they still get engine’s from other airlines for repair/overhaul. In fact Indus, Shaheen and Airblue all get help from PIA engineering department for various things.

    One cannot just do things in aviation without being qualified for it. For each engine/aircraft type a PIA engineer has to get a license first before they can work on them.

    Its obvious that with some strict management and no political influence PIA can easily be turned around. My only opinion on privatizations is that it should be super fair deal and should benefit Pakistan and its people instead of Nawaz and CO.Recommend

  • Texas King

    Miss Saman Jafarey(Author), I like to point out First reason to privatize you already mention.
    “So before you judge all employees by the same scale, let me ask you a question: How many of you are aware that every time the government changes, be it PML-N or PPP, the top management of PIA does too?”

    Second, about Merit alot of pplapplied in PIA got selected and then denied because someone sitting in PIA for decades decieded to bring SAFARISHI or by reference So I know how much PIA employee are on merit.

    Third, I am firm believer that state should not do business, PIA is white elephant which is feeded from my TAX money because government take my tax money and give it to PIA employee and then take tax so only thing they did was take free flights or yes from my tax money giving their families free health facilities.

    Last, I love PIA but loving PIA does not mean I will support fascist elements that want to juice the organization. Recommend

  • http://religious-nationalism.blogspot.com/ Raja M. Ali Saleem

    If your father was hard working employee, I think you should be the first one to support sacking thousands of political appointees. If you think politics have destroyed PIA, why you do not want it privatized so that political interference is lessened? It appears you are not against privatization as such but against selling of airline to some specific individual. Sadly, you have regurgitated the accusation, without providing any proof. Anyways, if you fear corrupt practices in PIA privatization, raise your voice against that, rather than condemning the whole exercise of privatization. If all PIA employees are not useless and lazy (as you rightly argue), all privatization is also not bad.Recommend

  • Sami

    In Pakistan all children of Government and Army Officers think that their parents are giving us ( The ordinary Pakistani Public) the Greatest Service ever by dong jobs in their respective institutes. You are paid for what you are doing. You were not volunteers. This is how every institute works.

    Also you mentioned the so called influx of Punjabis in the PIA in this government. You are like suggesting that may be they are unable to fix it and that is reason of current situation.
    Let me tell you the “Golden Years of PIA” are considered to from 1959-1966. And the Incharge of that Golden Period of PIA was “Malik Nur Khan” who was a Punjabi as well. I can guarantee you that Punjabis will fix this airline during this year what Sindhis and others have ruined in their previous tenure..Recommend

  • Adeel

    Indeed, PIA is a great orgaization. My Dad also worked for PIA for 35 years where he witnessed the Glory Days. I currently work for Emirates which was made by PIA and Emirates bestows PIA for its initial start up. PIA is and will always be a great Airlines, we just need to straighten out and get rid of the corruption in order for PIA to succeed again like the old days, Inshallah.

  • AreJay

    Dear Saman,
    I completely agree that the government is at blame and it might be wrong to stereotype and accuse all employees of PIA. However, you have to agree PIA instead of benefitting the nation has become a leech churning out loss after loss every year. You do understand that if it is privatized and let’s assume sold to so and so. This will be only beneficial to people like your dad because then so and so will not have endless supply of Pakistani funds to function and will actually need people like your father’s rto step up and take charge.

    The main reason why we need privatization here is that you can not rely on government to think about benefit of PIA and Pakistan in general.

    We have seen other public companies such as ptcl and ke do well post privatisation albeit they have their own issues nonetheless. Recommend

  • Nazir Hussain

    Saman, First, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I Wish most of the PIA employees , were like your father . But they were and are not. My personal experience , not as an staff members, but some one who extensively used PIA services for official duty is different.

    There is and there was , 1) no commitment to the organisation, 2) skills and right attitudes were lacking, 3) nepotism was in abundance, 4) waste, pilferage, misappropriation was all around, 5) staff and senior managers and executives were in collusion to rob the organisation, 6) political interventions were a routine.

    Tell me how will such an organisation survive.Recommend

  • http://about.me/utg001 utg001

    your insights match well with what I’ve come to expect from the PML-N govt. every action they have taken, though from some angle may be argued is solely for the betterment of the people, but always has an aspect where they have ripped the people of Pakistan off. I would like to add you didn’t ask the right question at the end, privatization of PIA is not for the benefit of the employees, rather over employment is a major factor in pushing PIA to where it has come. People should be asked whether PIA’s downfall is due to poor management or forced over-employment by successive governments.
    With the state of people of Pakistan, I’m afraid the die hard fans of PML-N would never see the real cause of the problem and hail this as another act by Nawaz league in saving Pakistan.Recommend

  • DevilHunterX

    This isnt the same PIA. That one is dead and buried long time ago.Recommend

  • Asad Shairani

    It is indeed the government which has led to the downfall. Honest and hard working employees need not take to heart the blame at all. Having said that, knowing our government and systems, it will be nearly impossible to retain PIA as a government entity and manage its affairs well. It is sadly, the truth. Good, competent employees will find jobs in the new aviation industry anyway. I think its time to let it go so that it is managed well by people who have a direct stake in it.Recommend

  • Sheraz Khalid

    Its hard to absorb but yes if your father did not raise the voice against the status-quo then he is somewhere and and somewhat responsible for the debacle of this glorious organization. I am not someone who passed such comments as you mentioned above neither I’m in favor of privatization of our national flag carrier, but still the onus lies on all those who remained silent.
    “The darkets places in hell are reserved for those who maintain theoir neutrality in the times of moral crises”
    (Dante Algheiri)
    I have been fired from three jobs just because I took stand that I deemed wrong for my colleagues and, organization as a whole, work place environment and even for the long term future of my country.Recommend

  • asad

    To remove government influence in the operational and management activities of national carrier, it is essential that it is privatized because I have never heard PIA making profit in any of the previously elected governments. otherwise, the trend is going to be same, like many of us, we dont even think about travelling with PIARecommend

  • Fatedninjabunny

    Sorry but businesses today need to make a profit to survive. If PIA needs govt money to survive than its not viable. I’me very happy for what it does for its employees etc. but if they can’t afford it too bad. Why should I as a tax payer pay for a PIA employee’s exceptional healthcare? Who does that for me? There is no case being made for why taxpayers should continue to subsidize PIA employees and loss making. If it get privatized (Regardless of who it goes to) lets add up all the annual savings to the tax exchequer from not having to pay PIA losses. Also here’s a simple example of inefficiency – instead of employing all these people as drivers etc., why not out -source? The whole corporate world has gotten out of non-essential businesses starting back in the 90’s but PIA, a mass loss making entity, wants to continue to operate a welfare society stuck on glory tales from the 60’s before many of us were even born.Recommend

  • Fatedninjabunny

    And the poll is wrong also – who cares if PIA privatization benefits the employees, will it benefit the taxpayers of Pakistan? If you make a profit than talk about employee benefits, otherwise stop ‘stealing’ my money.Recommend

  • Sam

    Agreed that the fault does not lie with honest and hardworking employees.
    However all your arguments lead to the conclusion that PIA should be privatized.
    A private sector organization does not have the luxury of operating in efficiently.
    If the relatives of Nawaz Sharif purchase the airline, they themselves will suffer if they fail to fix the situation.Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali

    we are familiar with the PIA glory days, we also know that not all employees are corrupt, incompetent and useless. we know that.
    Its just that the organisation needs to go private. That is it.
    I guess you are missing the point here.Recommend

  • Farhan

    “For all those who are supporting PIA’s privatisation, remember Nawaz
    Sharif is doing it so he can sell it to his grand-daughter’s in-laws.
    It’s going to become one of their family’s businesses.”

    For someone who is asking the readers not to be judgmental and avoid assumptions, the author is pretty unabashed about making judgements of her own.Recommend

  • Asy ma wail !

    Only if you want to make it a racial debate which it is not by any mean, then I believe they will fix it the way they have fixed Pakistan for the past few decades, sweetheart. She simply highlighted that with changes in government the crowd from the respective domination was flushed into PIA to reward them for their loyalties in elections. Its not a myth only if you can see with open eyes.Recommend

  • Ali

    Thats why govt want to privatize PIA so that there is no political interference in it. People will be deployed on merit and PIA will growRecommend

  • Abdullah

    Its not about the individual its about the whole organization and employees are part of it. How could an airline survived with highest employee to aircraft ratio in the world? I myself see the low ambitions, pathetic services, specially by the air hostess of PIA, . An organization having overall loss of 300 Billion, more than its assets and paying billions of rupee monthly interest on its loan.Recommend

  • Fida M Khan

    I respect your article but these national companies are always under the influence of political power. For that Reason, Privatization is the only way to curb this issue…u get less influence of Political parties coming on and off in govt and secondly, these political parties take most of the income from national earning assets and use for their personal benefits. and u also may know that Govt bodies are always full of Union Worker which are menace and act like termite in companies.
    For your, See PTCL, where it was standing before privatization and where it is now?
    you can get good idea. to cut matter in short, Privatization is only way to run these giant bodies swiftly and become fortune earning companies.
    PIA, Steel Mill and Wapda needs urgent privatization in this regards.Recommend

  • Patwari

    EVERY politician, in Punjab, Sindh, [all over the country]
    has a relative or acquaintence, or a ‘sifarish’ working in PIA.
    The airline was destroyed by the govt., bureaucrats, incompetent
    managers and mega mega NEPOTISM. There were, and still are,
    great people working at PIA. But they are outnumbered by the free
    loading incompetents.
    Even PAN AM the greatest airline, ever, was put out of business, by bad management.
    Another one, TWA, a great airline, was bankrupted, by bad management.Recommend

  • shahid

    Yes it is a fashion that every person consider himself indispensable for the organisation. Please don’t forget to mention here what they have got from PIA as well, best salaries in Pakistan, free tickets, ….etc. Remember there are stages in evolution. It is states responsibility to raise an enterprise like an airline. and as happens in developing countries, with passage of time, the organisations are politicised and their performance is riddled with inefficiency, corruption and more benefits. Union leaders of all sort are accountable for their job. It is an appropriate time to get rid of these. Let us see the examples of banks. Compare their performance pre and post privatisation. The branches are clean, well maintained, employees get better salaries and at the same time the Govt. receipts in taxes has jumped manifold.
    let us go for it.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/zobidada Zohaib Ali Khan

    //So before you judge all employees by the same scale, let me ask you a question: How many of you are aware that every time the government changes, be it PML-N or PPP, the top management of PIA does too?

    This is done in order to reflect the governing party. With a Punjabi government in power, PIA sees an influx of Punjabis all around and it’s the same with Sindhis when PPP wins an election.//

    ^ Thats precisely the reason why PIA should be privatized and away from Governmental influence. If you really care about PIA and the employees are there on merit than there is really no need to fear. New management cannot run the airline without competent employees. Obviously only those will get kick in their butt who are free loadersRecommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/zobidada Zohaib Ali Khan

    //So before you judge all employees by the same scale, let me ask you a question: How many of you are aware that every time the government changes, be it PML-N or PPP, the top management of PIA does too?

    This is done in order to reflect the governing party. With a Punjabi government in power, PIA sees an influx of Punjabis all around and it’s the same with Sindhis when PPP wins an election.//

    ^ Thats precisely the reason why PIA should be privatized and away from Governmental influence. If you really care about PIA and the employees are there on merit than there is really no need to fear. New management cannot run the airline without competent employees. Obviously only those will get kick in their butt who are free loadersRecommend

  • abdullah

    If this article was written by Bilawal Bhutto he would have shared the same thing about his father . Sorry saman jaffery may be you are right. may be your father was loyal as you portrayed him, but this is a harsh reality. our govt backed institution are of no use, and political base employs are MahaRajas of pakistanRecommend

  • Bilal

    Commendable piece Saman. My mom worked for PIA for almost 4 decades. She joined our national carrier in 1970s and was proud of it. We’ve traveled the globe thanks to PIA and our exposure to the world has been enlightening thanks to our parents and equally importantly PIA. Debates around PIA have always made me feel emotive. You’re absolutely correct in pointing out that the mess today PIA finds itself is the direct result of govt. policies (rather lack of it) – both civilian & military. The govt. would do well if it were to sell part of the airline to employees (management buy-in) after placing industry experts at the helms. Selling to a businessman simply eliminates the ethos of the organisation. Two most critical aspects are (i) recognition of merit and (i) understanding of changing aviation industry.
    Its worthwhile to note that most major airlines today are in losses or the brink (except those supported by oil-economies).
    PIA needs to realize that aviation industry has changed and it needs to adopt that change.Recommend

  • teetak_baatak

    So why the hell do PIA employees enjoy free medical and dental when the airline makes no money? Is this a business or a charity? We are a poor country and cannot afford white elephants like PIA siphoning off millions from the taxpayer. So what if the airline was “mismanaged” and people appointed on political grounds? the simple fact of the matter is that its a failing business that needs to be revived and that means getting rid of all the excess baggage FIRST! Businesses do fail because of corruption and nepotism and yes hardworking, honest workers do get the axe, because you know what? thats what happens when a business fails. Being employed in the PIA for life is not a fundamental right.Recommend

  • Sami

    Kindly read the above article. She mentioned influx of Punjabis specifically in her article. It was not necessary to mention it like that. So who initiated the Ethnic Debate? I am just commenting on what she stated.
    Also you are mentioning the word “Racial”. The word Ethnic is more appropriate here.There is a difference in these two terms.


  • Asim Ali

    One of my relatives just retired from PIA after 30+ years of service. He was a Captain. He gets 2 free tickets to the US every month in business class for the rest of his life. How is this even justified? PIA is running in losses and the tax payer is paying for these losses which includes, the maintenance, medical benefits, free tickets benefits, pensions and what not. Fact of the matter is the airline did not grow as fast as other airlines have and this is a matter for shame.Recommend

  • Mohsin

    Not if Nawaz family is taking it over.Recommend

  • Asy ma wail !

    So whats wrong if she mentioned something which actually happened or still happening? Do you think I just jumped in without reading it? Read again! “With a Punjabi government in power, PIA sees an influx of Punjabis all around and it’s the same with Sindhis when PPP wins an election.” She explicitly mentioned Sindhis along with Punjabis – Her argument is very clear and cant be denied unless one is blind folded. PML-N and PPP, as once rose to the national statures, are heavily reduced to the regional parties arguably representing the respective people and yes, its unfortunate but they do horrible things to favor their vote banks.

    Having said that, its just that PPP and PML-N had the chance, so they did – I would expect the same from MQM and ANP, if they ever had a chance to rule the country, which is not gonna happen.

    p.s. Racial or ethnic, does it really matter when you are still saying that Punjabis gonna fix things which Sindhis and “others” ruined?Recommend

  • paki_guy

    This privatization isn’t about her dad if he was a hard working man. Although I do sort of question how she was able to afford two degrees in the UK, if she was a Pakistani as you couldn’t get a student loan in the UK if you were a foreigner, so you are paying hefty Pound Sterling and for a law degree from a reputable schools….probably 100K plus pounds. And she has two degrees!!Recommend

  • Sarwat S. Ayub

    i read and reread what you wrote……….no facts or figures, no mention of clear overstaffing, no mention of how PIA pilots and crew have been on various occasions involved in smuggling electronics and drugs from one country to the other, you mention your father worked 37 years with PIA…good for him, but does this make the institution any better than it is? no i doesnt, because even today most European countries refuse to permit PIA planes to land at their airports? any idea why? it has nothing to do with the PIA management but everything to do with how pathetically engineers and ground staff maintain aircraft. so my dear, don’t make this personal, but PIA must get its act together and get rid of its overstaffed, excessively paid employees and yes, we might be able to run it better or sell it offRecommend

  • Yasin Janjua

    Ms Sama Jaffarey

    First of all thanks for an illuminating piece of writing. It is understandable why your point of view is so much tilted in favor of PIA. I believe he and his likes should have stood up to mis-management of PIA long time ago.

    Yes! PIA has the worst employee to aircraft ratio.

    The developed country argument for its doom and failure becomes invalid because PIA was a developing country organization which helped start the airlines of countries which were better than Pakistan.

    Running hospitals and other institutions by PIA is actually stupid idea. This is another reason for their failure and mis-management. They should have outsourced these services as it is done in the rest of the world – period.

    Ask your self how many perks you got as a daughter of PIA employee then ask kids of successful enterprises around the world if they get same perks – you will learn a lot.

    My comments are harsh but there is lot of Economics behind it.

    Thanks if you read and think,


  • Saad Mas

    I’m a Son of a Father who worked gave his 35years to PIA, He always says PIA Made Him what he is in Aviation, He started of as a Apprentice, Went on being a Technician & Then AIrcraft Engineer Who later on was Inducted in The VVIP fleet, He Left PIA on a High Note as a Senior Aircraft Engineer with Memories that is Part of his life forever- People who have no aviation experience talk as if they know all- PIA was known for its Service back in the 80s to Glamorous Cabin Crew with Friendly Ground Staff. PIA has multiple problems but its more about management & corruption, Employee to Aircraft ratio is now downto 325 per aircraft which can further be reduced if PIA can induct 7 more Aircrafts to the its 38 operational fleet then aircraft per ratio would go down to 175- I tend to agree with Saman on certain things mentioned in her article from Free Medical to Rebated Air travel ” Its a Rule Of ICAO” that airlines employees would be entitled Rebated ZED Travel or ID 90-50 tickets. PIA Hotel in Paris called Scribe gives a Annual Profit of 100 Million USD which is a asset along with Historic Roosevelt in NYC.
    I also agree that PIA is being bought by NS or his Extended Family Members! Which would be a Loose to the National Prestige.
    Like Saman, I’m proud that My Father Served for the National Carrier & his Experience made me join Aviation as well, which is a blessing & a proud moment for me.Recommend

  • ovais

    your father worked but his company made losses and he didnt face anything due to that unlike private organization. he should face the same fate as someone in private airlines like aero asia bhoja air etc . the pia management and employeesdeserve to face the music and yes fire as well . just like any private sector company would doRecommend

  • ovais

    PIA employees are using my hard earned tax money which could be used for education and health so yes privatization is the solution . Govt cant take tough decisions one of which would be reducing the perks of the retired employees like any pvt sectorRecommend

  • Gullu, Guddu and Gomnath.

    She also mentions Sindhis. Which you conveniently
    forgot. Depending upon which ethnics are in power.
    It has been Punjabis who have been in power since
    1947. Who have run every institution, every branch of
    the govt. to the ground. Their nepotism, incompetence,
    is evident everywhere. Now, they just concentrate on
    Punjab. Since the rest of the country does not want
    anything to do with them. So now, all the money goes to
    Punjab. Green line, Yellow Bus Service, This highway,
    that road. Purple flyovers, Blue bus stops. The money
    is shunted to Punjab, by the PM, to his brother, the mini
    Sharif, or “Khadim e Ala”….all to win the next election.
    Because the majority of the population, lives and vote in
    Punjab. Communal and ethnic politics. Might as well call
    it Sharifistan. Don’t you think? So corrupt and pathetic, is
    it not?Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    The author is a member of the corporate family which because of the fathers employment with PIA, feels so much attached to it herself. She has said a lot about the incompetent revolving mangement depending upon the kind of Government incharge but forgot to mention that the current civil- military coaltion is made up of desperados who are hell bent on putting up all Government owned assets for auction. This is the only way to ensure the continued flow of credit from IMF!!

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Amin Amin

    you are right on the money, I am neither Sindhi, Urdu or for that a Punjabi. But I had seen with my own eyes how Sindhis have ruined the country. No matter how rich a Sindhi is he will or his family member would have a Govt Job.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Here is the conundrum :- Unload off load all the incompetents,
    and then appoint a new team? Huh?
    Are you for real? Who WILL appoint the new team? The same
    thugs, thieves corrupt politicians, who appointed the last cartel?
    Or a farishta from heaven will come down with a list? And make
    the appointments?
    Maybe United Nations can help appoint? Gujranwala’s tehsildar
    can help? Maybe Mianwali’s district judge? Mullah Fazl ur Rehman?
    Mullah Sheerani? Taliban Khan? Baby Bhutto?Recommend

  • brar

    Your father retired just six years back and is in constant contact with his former collegues but he failed to answer your question regarding 780 employees per air caraft why, I also retired in August 2010 from a PSU and if you ask me the total strength of staff of my company today I will tell you frankly that the staff is surplus.Recommend

  • brar

    Mr. Sami read next words also, she says same happens when PPP a Sindhi party wins, do,nt be over enthusiastic by theway I am also a Punjabi.Recommend

  • Dajjal

    I am the son of someone who flew in P,I.A.. also, I am the brother, cousin, uncle… friend.. neighbor of people who all flew in P.I.A… some still do actually… do i qualify to give “expert advice” on privatization of the airline?Recommend

  • Ali

    Wow, look how civilized the women look. No burka. Recommend


    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”Recommend

  • Ali Ashraf Khan

    Well you are absolutely right, Ms. Saman, As a patriotic Pakistani I also loved national carrier (PIA) World Airline history cannot ignore PIA as a leading airline, few decade back airlines were regulated under IATA & ICAO regulations and there use to be Civil Aviation deptt dedicated to the job, it was turned into loss making when Ziaul Haque brought his brother-in-Law Air Commodore Salim as Chairman and all kinds of ills and curses were started through cabin crew including smuggling of goods, money and drugs for which favourites were inducted or promoted as facilitators, there are many criminal FIR’s about these crimes committed and then investigated. I had also written my column which was edited but published after 10 days only yesterday that you can see on link given below – But Nowhere politicians indulge in loot and plunder and sell national silver the way they are doing under the guise of pauperization, the privatization policy Nawaz Sharif Cabinet approved in 1990 was based on 2 points: First, Reducing of
    financial deficit and secondly, Generation of resources for reducing the foreign
    loans liability,So you need to see what have we achieved by throwing our silver to their cronies in last 25 years except two Chairmans of PC were sent to jail with many others till political clout didn’t change. Now if PIA is making a loss of 10 billion because of above compromises, accumulated debt is Rs. 300 billion, it does not justify give it to some cronies with golden eggs for a laugh. Bad governance and government compromising daily calls for out sourcing the government for streamlining good administration as the quantum of loss from top to bottom in every govt. institution is going daily in billions. Lastly I vouch for honesty and dedication and competence of your father and his entire family at the Top. Read this article: http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=288733 You deserve acclamation KEEP this spirit up, AAK – [email protected]Recommend

  • Sameer Ahmad

    I appreciate your sentiment but the fact of the matter is PIA has been making huge loses for quite sometime. I agree that it is the frequent intervention by the ruling party that has brought it to this stage but it is still a loss making entity and in the current form I don’t see how anything can change. Your father along with many other hard working professionals have slowly been filtered out or poached by other airlines. Majority of the current workforce has been hired by political influences not merit.

    PIA has undisputed advantages over competitors in Pakistan, to give you some perspective below are some points:
    1. PIA does not pay CAA charges in the same capacity as its competitors. While competitors can be closed for non-payment PIA continues with any interruption and at times a flat out waived.
    2. Whenever PIA wants to buy an aircraft the Government has to issue Sovereign bonds to assure lenders they will not default
    3. PIA leases for most of their airport land have expired decades back, the renowned Ispahani Hanger lease expired in 1986, last I checked, PIA still uses these facilities without any payment while their competitors are continuously denied space to built facilities and hangar. If if they do get space, there will be a hefty investment for developing taxiway etc, which is deemed responsibility of the lessee.

    I have nothing against PIA, in fact it was a pride and joy of Pakistan once. In the early days PIA helped build a reputation for Pakistan but now it is just a shadow of its former self much like our beloved country. The system is beyond repair, you can either keeping allocating resources hoping for a miracle or scrap it and implement another.Recommend

  • F Hassan

    The above narrated facts are considerable and facts, my father served in Pakistan Steel and i feel the same situation when heard that Pak Steel is a white elephant and is a burden on treasury…..I think illiterate politicians, Incompetent Bureaucracy and non professional top management of PIA, Pakistan Steel are to be blamed for destructions of such giant institutions…………. not employees…Recommend

  • F Hassan

    The above narrated facts are considerable and facts, my father served in Pakistan Steel and i feel the same situation when heard that Pak Steel is a white elephant and is a burden on treasury…..I think illiterate politicians, Incompetent Bureaucracy and non professional top management of PIA, Pakistan Steel are to be blamed for destructions of such giant institutions…………. not employees…Recommend

  • Munna Bhai FCPS

    Cent percent correct analysis.Being a frequent flyer of PIA ,I had witnessed many times two or three employees sitting/standing at a same booth/counter ( overstaffed ) at Karachi airport ,idly chit chatting in Sindhi .
    These politically appointees of PPP have already destroyed PIA ,Steel mill and all other Govt institutions including police ,FIA ,NAB .You name it and they are there to suck your blood as they are basically “rishwatkhor” to the core .Recommend

  • Munna Bhai FCPS

    Spot on .There are thousands of highly qualified ,willing to work, hard jobless
    youths in Paksitan .
    The Govt should fire all trouble maker “HadHaram” overpaid PIA staff and hire
    from these unemployed youth on purely merit basis.Recommend

  • Munna Bhai FCPS

    You are thanking PIA for you to be enlightened ? Lolz.It should be the poor people of Pakistan and people like me who paid Direct and Indirect taxes through our noses to help survive the white elephant called PIA .
    The simple equation is
    Pakistani people foot the bill = you got the benefit and fun of your lifetime = The white elephant breathing its last .Recommend

  • Omar Sheikh

    Good thing your father raised you that way, unfortunately that’s not the case with the vast majority. PIA’s top management gets changed every time a new government comes in but what about the air crew that make up the headlines every other day for all the wrong reasons. Do the pilots and their crews on-board are changed too. I won’t buy that, it’s the mismanagement and utter incompetence that has been decaying the national carrier for ages at every level weather it be the high posts or lower kick backs.
    Time has come to take drastic decisions today and get rid of non-performing employees that have brought the airline to where it is today, so not just blame the government but the employees too.Recommend

  • Omar Sheikh

    You’ve missed it all together kiddo, this is the very mindset that’s brought this great country let alone the organisation to what it is today. Give your self a break!Recommend

  • Omar Sheikh

    Can’t agree more on that, it’s just a matter of personal interest, it’s no more a matter of public or national interest anymore.Recommend

  • Faulitics

    Will someone come up and say “I am the son of an unfortunate customer of PIA who had to put up with the incompetance of PIA for 37 years”?Recommend

  • Sam

    Dear Saman,
    you sounds like you are a daugher of a pilot, please ask your father what PALPA (union of pilot) as done to PIA. just for a while forget about higher management of PIA, I personally know a office attendant (chaprasi) who is working for like 22 years and he is getting a pay of 90,000 Rps + benefits is it justified? where else in our country a bachelor degree holder is barely getting a salary of 20,000 rps (and i don`t even have to tell you that how is working harder). if you are fired by PIA just simply go to court and get the stay order and enjoy don’t even need to work. And Pilot they are the person who actually damaged the PIA (badmashi say) and what kind of attitude they have, you really have no idea. PIA is still not running on loss simply math PIA is just over loaded. All the unions (not the political) the unions of engineers, crew, pilots and all has damaged PIA like anything. Look at emirates airline they pay is really good but if you don`t work are OUT (even you are emirati). Wake up Madam. And privatization mean semi gov it would be still under gov but it will get immune from all the stupid gov rules. I can actually write twice the length about the PIA and why it needs to be privatized. Ms. Get your facts.Recommend

  • Ramchand

    Every major international airline has this policy of providing
    free tickets. And other perks. And benefits. This is nothing
    unusual. Airlines have to provide comparable benefits etc.
    or no pilot will want to fly for them. They will get the experience,
    [flying hours] then leave, for Emirates, Singapore Airlines, KLM,
    Qantas, Qatar, Etihad, you name it. Even if the airline is going
    down the drain, like PIA, they, still, MUST maintain the benefits.
    Or there will be no pilots left to fly it’s planes. They will be working
    for other airlines. As simple as that.
    Bet you right now, the younger pilots at PIA are looking for pilot’s
    jobs, the world over. The older ones, have too much invested in
    their retirements and pensions. So they will be forced to stay.Recommend


    Full of generic statements.Recommend

  • najam

    I am amazed that opponents of her arguments are so polite to her. Had it been a male writer, there would have been curses, fun stuff, name calling, satire, and what not. I am all for equality of men and women especially when they have to stand in queue and hence i do not let them jump their turn.
    Well, let me cut to the chase. she needs to know that she enjoyed privileged life at the expense of tax payers. Yet she has the audacity to oppose the privatization of a cash blackhole just because she is its beneficiary.
    When Musharraf resigned from presidential position, staff of president house wept bitterly. Similar scenes are scene every time chair changes in prime minister house no matter how corrupt the person was. Oh wait, did you know what did Hitler’s aides and beneficiaries think/do?
    I know your father served for such a long time, and I am sure he was an honest officer, but was he useful/productive? Was he able to change anything or at least tried? or did he just went about his job and thats it? Did he refuse perks and privileges at least after retirement, given that the prized national asset is wasting public money in droves?