Arshad Malik’s Appointment: Some Truths Unsealed

By: Dr. Umair Haroon

Pakistan International Airline is often a conversation piece, mostly at the receiving end of the bad press due to its performance setbacks. Recently it attracted the media attention when the Sindh High Court restricted its CEO Arshad Malik from performing the functions of his position, which was nullified two days back by the Supreme Court and the incumbent officer stands reinstated.

Politics of the propaganda appears to be in fashion all over the world as populism takes toll. In the aftermath, access to correct information in order to let people be the judge has become quite a conundrum because only what sells the best is put on display.

Likewise, in the case of PIA, the negative that has an appeal for ratings supersedes the positive – leaving no space for real journalism. For the readers, without enforcement of an opinion, I would simply jot down the state of PIA before and after the appointment of Arshad Malik for the readers to decide whether an appointment like this should be subjected to controversies or not.

PIA was in shambles prior to the appointment of Arshad Malik. The common staff as well as the officers were regularly in protest against the administration for non-payment and the delays in monthly salary.

Unprofessionalism was on such height that a single month’s salary used to be given in different installments. The sick of the PIA staff were either denied provision of medicines from the PIA dispensary or given after several visits at the panel store. They were not allowed to be admitted in the hospitals at times because the PIA administration would fail to clear the earlier dues of patients to the respective hospitals. Due to non-supply of funds to the flight kitchens, passengers were served inadequate and poor quality food.

Moreover, the staff of the airline would remain without getting new uniform for several years and would be denied provisional funds. The retired also were not provided timely pensions for many years as they would struggle to make their ends meet. Apart from poor services to passengers and injustices to the staff, many of the airplanes would remain grounded as their parts were not supplied owing to the incompetence of the administration. So on and so forth, the PIA’s journey from glory to shame was not unknown to any.

However as of today, the PIA presents a different picture altogether. The staff today receives the salaries on time and often before the time as well – especially in case of festivals etc. Suppliers now receive payments on time. Medical facilities have improved to an extent that the staff no more has to face problems and humiliation in procuring the required medicines from the PIA dispensary and the stores on the panel also cooperate with the staff now due to timely provision of funds.

In addition, PIA has been able to efficiently control the unnecessary expenditures. The improvement in PIA is evident from the fact that today its routes, that were closed down earlier, have been reopened – including the flight operations with U.S.

The aforementioned improvements were only possible under the tenure of Mr. Arshad Malik who is under heat for transforming an important national institution. Not to forget, this is no advocacy of an individual for all the facts mentioned above are open to cross checking and can be confirmed easily by the readers. This is only a small attempt at laying bare some truths, that do not usally surface on the mainstream media out of prejudice, only for the public to learn and judge whether the institution which is run on the taxpayers money is in the right hands or not – because the people are entitled to this clarity and transparency.