I decided long ago not to travel by PIA unless there was no alternative available. I saw how "efficient" this airline is about 20 years ago when my plane had to return to Lahore half an hour after take-off. I was accompanied by two Swedes, and we had to spend most of the night at Lahore airport. I forget what the problem was, but I remember I wrote to DAWN about it. This was before I had email (neither did DAWN), my piece is in a dusty file. I have planned to dig up my old files as soon as I get the time. 

There have been instances of PIA taking passengers to Lahore instead of its original destination (Karachi) just because a VVIP was traveling and he ordered it to fly to Lahore. Another time a relative of mine (since deceased) had to spend twenty four hours at Jeddah airport with his family because a minister suddenly arrived with his ten or twenty assistants, and my relative was off loaded (along with others).

A PIA plane crashed three years back in the northern areas (the famous evangelist Junaid Jamshed perished in that flight). The crash in Karachi today is no doubt due to handing PIA over to incompetent people. The PIA Head Office used to be in Karachi, but its top management now sits in Islamabad and Lahore. It was only a matter of time before the tragedy happened.

I saw the CEO of PIA bumbling and fumbling at a press conference a few minutes back. He wasn't even aware that there were two other survivors besides the President of the Bank of Punjab. He's been made CEO just because he happens to be a senior Air Force officer. This is the great tragedy. Everywhere you see military officers doing the work of civilians in this country. It's time this was changed.