PIA and Pakistan Railways, like other state-owned corporations, are majority-owned by the federal government. All losses, loans and liabilities are directly borne by taxpayers, while hundreds of thousands of poor people are denied basic welfare by state on pretext of scarcity of funds. In spite of vast potential for revenue growth the national air and rail transport sectors stand virtually destroyed. Interference by successive governments in their management and in their day-to-day operations by inducting political favourites and not hiring people on merit has made them veritable white elephants.
The national airline, which has lost billions in recent years, has reportedly inked a deal to purchase five Boeing 777s (with options for five more), and this seems to not make any sense given that the airline plans to close some of its chronic loss-making routes.
As for Pakistan Railways, it has placed an order for 75 locomotives from a Chinese manufacturer, from the same company that supplied locomotives during the time General Musharraf was in power — and which resulted in a scandal.
When are we going to see a government that can take the hard decisions that are needed to ensure that precious taxpayers money is not wasted on loss-making state-owned enterprises?
Malik Tariq Ali
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2012.