Dear PTI, admit your mistake and apologise, rather than treating us as fools

Published: September 4, 2018
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Call a spade a spade and simply apologise, instead of turning yourself into a laughing stock. PHOTO: TWITTER/ FAIQAARSHAD11

Amidst all the austerity measures introduced by the current government, there have already emerged two controversies that indicated it may all be a façade. The first was when the Chief Minister of Punjab, Sardar Usman Buzdar, used a government jet to travel to Islamabad with his family. The second was when the Prime Minister of Pakistan was using a helicopter to travel to and from the Bani Gala.

During the tenure of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and before that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), ministers used to enjoy such facilities with impunity, sparing no concern for cost, since making huge expenditures from the national exchequer is part of governance in Pakistan. However, Imran Khan’s government started on the note that this will not continue in Naya Pakistan, with a lot of noise being created over the cutbacks that were to take place in the lifestyle of elected officials. If only they had acted on what they preached.

What somehow made the entire controversy worse was seeing Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry put forward half-baked explanations that were as ridiculous as they were hilarious. The best one, of course, was Chaudhry’s justification that each trip only cost between Rs50 to 55 per kilometre. When asked who provided such a figure, he revealed that he had in fact googled it himself. After a lot of trolling and jokes on social media at the expense of Chaudhry and the new government, it was unveiled by actual aviation experts that the journey actually cost the national exchequer somewhere around Rs128,000 per trip.

How does it look when the information minister relays false or inaccurate information to the nation? This is what happens when ministers face the media and stubbornly try to justify the actions of their colleagues and their party, come what may.

No one is criticising Imran for using the helicopter; it is his right as the prime minister. But to make a huge deal out of austerity measures only to not follow them, and then having a minister try and justify it with false logic instead of the truth, is frankly quite insulting to the nation’s intelligence.

Pakistan is used to prime ministers using official property for personal use; Nawaz Sharif’s helicopter was used by his children, to transport Nihari for his meals from Lahore to Murree, and to shower flower petals on his convoy after he was disqualified by the Supreme Court.

Amazing protocol of Nawaz SharifFlower petals showered on Nawaz Sharif convoy from helicopter in Haripur. 21-01-2018.

Posted by Abdul Waheed Malik on Sunday, February 4, 2018

Yousuf Raza Gillani, another former prime minister, famously used the government jet to transport his family from Multan to Islamabad in order to meet Angelina Jolie on her visit to Pakistan. This was common and unsurprising in the old Pakistan.

However, given the rhetoric employed by the PTI, such incidents only provide ammunition to the opposition, since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was elected on the promise that they would be different, not exactly the same. The PTI has previously been criticised for taking U-turns, and the behaviour of their ministers going against their word makes it seem as if austerity was also a mere slogan that the party will retreat from.

In the past, every single time we were made aware of such incidents, ministers from their respective parties would defend their leaders at the expense of logic and common sense. Now with a new government in Islamabad, the public expects better, mainly because the PTI has strongly and repeatedly urged them to.

What is sorely needed is for the information minister to be better prepared from now on, especially when he faces the media to provide justifications for the controversies that are likely to follow. Chaudhry’s utmost priority and loyalty should be to the interests and the people of Pakistan, not his political party. If nothing else, at least better preparedness and an information minister not blindly defending his party is the only sign we need that this is indeed a new beginning for Pakistan. Call a spade a spade and simply apologise, instead of turning yourself into a laughing stock.

The government spokespersons should realise that prime ministers and chief ministers are not the government – they are simply part of it. They are fallible and can make mistakes, and openly admitting to them will make them seem more human and relatable to the people who elected them than lying to save face will.

After all, the PTI came into power on the bandwagon of change. Now everyone part of this government should actively carry this mantra of change forward by judiciously serving Pakistan and by proving through their actions instead of their words that they are loyal to Pakistan, not to any individual.

Khurram Zia Khan

Khurram Zia Khan

The writer is the media manager of Asiatic Public Relations and tweets @KhurramZiaKhan (twitter.com/KhurramZiaKhan)

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

  • ark

    There is no any requirement to apologize. IK being PM must use helicopter due to security reasons.Recommend

  • Sajid

    Lol! PTI!Recommend

  • Muhammad Salman

    i dont think so that this nation will ever cut wisdom teeth. Those who conquer mount Everest should not count the cost of shoes. When roads get blocked they sob. we have other issues more important than these.Recommend

  • Parvez

    There is something known as the ‘ use of an entitlement ‘…… and then there is something known as the ‘ abuse of an entitlement ‘, try differentiate between the two. These two incidents that were played up in the media and still being bandied about simply reflect the petty mindset involved, a mindset that finds it easier to grasp the insignificant while missing the important.Recommend

  • Andrew Davis

    This figure was exactly what I was talking about. Everyone, including the media was making a noise about the fuel cost and a justification was given. However, the actual fact remained unchanged that only the fuel costs were given, not the other costs including but not limited to parking, pilot fee, etc., etc.

    The figure of Rs. 128,000/- per flight as quoted, in my experience is still on the much lower side. Fuel hasn’t gotten cheaper. It has gotten more expensive and any aviation (planes, helicopters, etc) use a different type of fuel as compared to what is used on a daily basis by us ordinary citizens. I am not an avaitor, neither am in the flight charter business, however, I have experience and a certain amount of know-how about this because of the field in which I am working and my bosses quite regularly used to use chartered flights and helicopters for their work. The bills and fuel charges were always very high and we almost always have to negotiate with the service provider before the deal was finalized.Recommend

  • Andrew Davis

    I do agree with your statement. We do have more important things as a nation to worry about, however, this amount being paid or accrued is still coming out of the national exchequer and PTI said that they were answerable to the public. Give a decent, logical answer. We don’t want justifications. We need and want answers.Recommend

  • Andrew Davis

    I am sorry, but I do not agree with your statement that he must use a helicopter. The fact of the matter remains unchanged that as the PM of the country he is entitled to a certain amount of protocol and such. It is also a fact (which i agree with) that the security situation demands that the PM of the country needs extra security. However, he can lessen the amount of protocol used, if he should so desire. Using the helicopter and incurring more expense is not the solution. Using the helicopter and not the protocol is the same as eating a double cheese burger with a diet coke to go along with it.

    What is the use of cutting down on other expenses while incurring different expenses.Recommend

  • Sarah Uzair

    Treating the people as fools? The people ‘choose’ to be made fools out of. Point fingers at whoever, the fact remains it is the general public who believes such nonsense spun up by the government to justify its expenses the absurd-est ones yet by any political party. LOL. Anti-imran or not, it does not take up a lot of brain cells of a normal adult human being to conceive the thought that maybe a helicopter ride might cost a wee bit more than a rickshaw ride (even they do not charge PKR50),Recommend

  • BASIL

    I Love how Mr. Andrew Davis agreed he doesn’t know anything about the cost related to the use of Helicopter but still keeps commenting on the topic like some sort of an expert. Buddy while you were busy paying your boss’s bills you forgot to realize that your boss doesn’t own the helicopter or the plane now does he? It is actually the rent for the plane or the Helicopter that is the major expense not the fuel that is required. Please go and do some research because like this article says only fools will be here believing your senseless logic! Here the Helicopter is owned by the Givernement and the Pilot is on the salary of the Government. It is a whole different argument whether you should sell one helicoptor or 33 bulletproof cars along with drivers and what would be the cost in both cases however in the current scenario still the helicopter would be cheaper if you compare the costs involved.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Khan

    Ever heard of minimum flying hours of a aircraft? the plane / heli has to be kept airborne for a fixed number of minimum hours each month, regardless of it being used or it.. similarly the pilot is a Government Pilot and will have a fixed salary regardless of him doing any actual flying or not? Ever heard of Fixed Cost vs Variable cost????? you when you are making a fool of urself you should also know that in such comparisons only variable cost is considered and not the fixed cost, it will be incurred regardless of the actual usage??? Really feeling sorry for you, you need to study a few more classesRecommend

  • Zeeshan Khan

    Bibi the variable cost is actually PKR 53 / km. Fixed cost is already been incurred so you can’t include that here..Recommend

  • Zeeshan Khan

    the kind of security alerts being issued, the IAs will want all roads blocked to be sure of fool proof security from PM House to Bani Gala and back.. flying in a heli is a much more economical option..Recommend

  • sterry

    The problem is that there are so many people in Pakistan who are fooled by optics and not by real work. No one in the West begrudges a company CEO for taking a helicopter or serving a decent meal as long as the work is being done. There is a price to doing business and no one doubts a CEO or management fellow who is doing important work deserves to have some basic level of creature comfort. The issue is when the office is abused and no meaningful work is done. In Pakistan you can fool people by crying austerity and serving only tea or not living in PM House but in the end you wind up compromising security, spending more on other things and making a fool of yourself when you have to make a u turn. Worse of all, nothing gets done. Now we all have to wait and see if 10 million jobs are being created in 100 days like PTI claimed, 10 billion trees are plantes ( the 1 billion planted by KPK PTI was a joke that fooled no one) and that 500 billion dollars are brought back from abroad where people have stashed it according to PTI. This is why PTI won’t ask for any money from anyone since they declared the nation doesn’t need it. Most importantly let’s see how they react with the US since they did give a great talk about talking firmly with the US and asking them to leave the region. Let’s give them a chance like they said everything will be fixed in 100 days. So PTI Minister said a helicopter ride costs only 50 rupees an hour in Pakistan – the people of Pakistan believe it so far – let’s see how far the joke continues with people like CM Punjab Buzdar who has limited intellect and ability to handle things.Recommend

  • Afreen Jaffery

    Totally agree with your point of view! Imran Khan instead of making pseudo claims must think before speaking. This is not another marriage that he is talking about here. The claims that he makes. country’s future depends on them, so they better be accurate. I have been following your articles since many years and I really like your writing style. Keep up the good work!!!Recommend

  • Akber Shakil

    Dear author, public is not fool.Recommend

  • Moby Inayet

    Does not cost much? Fine. Let the PM pay for it. Buzdar must pay for it too otherwise use national airline for official business.Recommend

  • Sufian
  • Abdul moiz

    A kilometer is not such a big distance, a helicopter covers around 4 in a minute …so a helicopter would have to guzzle 1 Ltr of fuel every 15 seconds to cost 1 Ltr per Kilometer –

    Lets say one Ltr of fuel costs 200 Rs, 300 Rs per KM would be a good enough variable cost estimate, which is not too much when compared to 56 cars .. that cause traffic jams and shut down schools

    As for the question why not everyone has helicopters if it is so cheap, the answer is that it is not easy to fly a helicopter, and i would not like aslam khan riding a helicopter over me, parking would be another issue, i dont think it would be easy to squeeze a chopper in the mall basement, moreover if the helicopter breaks down it wouldn’t be easy to just start double indicator and jam it on the side of the road waiting for a mechanicRecommend

  • Omer Nabeel

    Andrew 1st of all, if you don’t have knowledge you should not speak. I am a qualified Chartered Accountant and have worked for an Oil Marketing Company for 3 years at a managerial position in Finance. The expensive fuel you are talking about is not more expensive than kerosene oil, which in most of the countries is cheaper than the fuel we use for our vehicles. We would be happy if you can share the break up of the cost you have mentioned which is more than Rs. 128K with relation to already owned (not rented, please), with a given pilot (whose salary will not materially change because of trips) with parking in a PM house (where no fee is payable as the place will in any case be properly maintained) with no material changes in depreciation (as the machine will depreciate with the passage of time). I think if you could check all these things you wouldnt have given this statement.Recommend

  • Paul Wolf

    Now everyone wants austerity all of a sudden lol.Recommend

  • Jarri Najam

    The author quotes 128,000 PKR as the cost of one trip (total of 2 trips are being made per week; on Friday and Monday). The source of this figure is a Tribune story which actually relies on numbers given in a BBC Urdu story. If you go to the BBC Urdu story, you’ll see that the cost they quote is 12,800 PKR. One less zero. Even this cost includes fixed costs that will be paid regardless of a 4 minute flight since the heli is owned and maintained by the government. The cost of flight is even more insignificant, even if not 55 PKR/km.

    This cost can be compared to the alternative of a security motorcade and all the security personnel deployed along the route, plus the inconvenience to the general public and time difference involved.

    There’s nothing here that goes against the austerity drive; rather no one ever mentioned less use of helis as part of the proposed cost cuts. There’s a reason for that: the government won’t save much by not using helis it owns and maintains. PM house has 2 which can’t be reduced since one will be needed as backup. 80 cars though can be reduced. 524 servants can be reduced. Try to actually look into the logic of an argument rather than optics and don’t make up straw men as you go along. No one from PTI ever criticised use of the PM heli by the PM himself. Its misuse by his children and for transporting food was criticised and the same should be criticised if it happens under the current government. It hasn’t though so this is just disingenuous hullabaloo.Recommend

  • Ahmar

    Helicopter would be cheaper… Yeah we know. I heard an expert on the TV saying it costs 50 – 55 Rupees per km. Who needs Andrew Davis…

    Youthia logic ^_^Recommend

  • Patwari

    Your love, for the looting and plundering Nawaz and his cohorts and thugs, is amazing. You simply refuse to admit that this man is part of the reason why Pakistan is nearly destitute. He and his cabal of thieves allowed Pakistanis to
    launder and park $150 billion dollars in UAE alone! How much is hidden in Macau
    Lichtenstein, Hong Kong, Caribbeans, France, Switzerland? Just to name a few. Enough to pay all of Paks loans 50 times over!!
    After all, this money is LOANS that were taken, and went straight to private off shore accounts. Instead of benefiting the country.
    You also tend to make up fake figures and fake news too. And pass them as real.
    This kind of behavior is hard to explain, unless everything you own is
    due to Nawaz’s largess.
    Say, are you related to Darbari Nawaz?…long distance relative?Recommend

  • Patwari

    Helicopters use aviation fuel [Aviation 1, to be exact] which is cheaper than what you put in your motorcycle, or your Cultus.
    In 2015 it was selling for less than a Euro. That’s why airlines can gauge you on fares. By claiming rise in the price of a barrel of oil. [You normally have average aviation fuel figures, “averages” every 3 years.]
    Airlines have set price contracts with their suppliers on Aviation fuel. Sometimes for a year or 6 months or more, in advance. So a jump in oil prices tomorrow will not effect airlines. Yet they will rip you off on fares, screaming that the price of oil just went up.
    Aviation fuel is cheap. Helicopters ARE NOT CHEAP. Even an old used one, made from salvaged parts from Bombay junkyards, will not be cheap.Recommend

  • sterry

    You don’t seem to understand that a healthy democracy involves different points of view and holding an elected ( or selected ) government accountable. That’s what we want to see in Pakistan. I know you are more into hero worship of Modi and not questioning a leader like in India but this isn’t the kind of democracy we want in Pakistan. To have an accountable government means that patriots have to closely watch whether they are true to election promises. So yes, Imran Khan said that over 500 billion dollars is stashed abroad by Pakistani politicians which is why he will say no to foreign aid and the IMF – so let’s see if this is true. If you have information about off shore accounts and moneys, make that information available to the current government and NAB so that that they can prove this and improve conditions in Pakistan. You will see that blindly blaming all the nations ills on one or another government or the army which has ruled for over half its existence matters little when we were told that 10 million jobs will be created in 100 days, foreign loans will be quashed and all will be different soon. So yes when PTI says a helicopter ride costs 50 rupees/ km people should complain. So let’s see. Has Modi accomplished any of his cherished promises either and where did hero worship of him did your family?Recommend