PIA lampooned for bizarre goat slaughter

Published: December 19, 2016
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A goat being slaughtered before an ATR flight. PHOTO: INP

A goat being slaughtered before an ATR flight. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD: Believe it or not, but the national air carrier or rather its staff have found a fail-safe way to protect its ATR planes from the risk of crashing.

In a telling example of lack of trust in the fleet of ATRs, some PIA staffers slaughtered a black goat before flying a twin-engine turboprop short-haul aircraft on Sunday as a ‘hedge against accidents’.

Last week the national carrier had grounded all of its nine ATRs for shakedown tests after a crash killed 47 people in Havelian on Dec 7 and another ATR plane reported technical issues shortly before take-off in Multan a few days later.

On Sunday, a bizarre picture took social media by storm.
The picture showed some men slaughtering a black goat near a PIA passenger jet while an Airport Security Force soldier stood nearby. Initially, the picture was thought to be photo-shopped, but it wasn’t. It was genuine.

The picture was snapped at Islamabad’s Benazir International Airport before a PIA ATR aircraft took off for Multan. The magic worked! And the flight, PK-681, landed safely at its destination.

The picture went viral on social media, triggering scathing criticism of the national carrier from journalists, social activists and celebrities. “Pre ATR flight Sadka…. Picture says it all,” wrote popular singer Fakhra-e-Alam on mirctroblogging site Twitter.

“Why was the goat sacrificed? The pilot doesn’t trust the plane? PIA doesn’t trust the pilot? CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] doesn’t trust PIA or passengers don’t trust anyone?” tweeted social activist Jibran Nasir.

Television anchor and journalist Ejaz Haider wrote: “When Charles Perrow was working on his theory of normal accidents, he totally missed out on ‘kala bakras’ as a hedge against accidents.”

The PIA management distanced itself from the superstitious practice with its spokesperson Daniyal Gillani saying “it was done by some local employees as a gesture of gratitude over the clearance of the first ATR [for flying].” He said it wasn’t a management decision.

Gilani’s explanation aside, in Pakistani culture a black goat is sacrificed to ward off evil.

Aviation sources say animal sacrifice ahead of a flight is not something new. They say the staff of two private airlines had also slaughtered goats before resuming flights following two deadly air crashes in 2010 and 2012.

“But this one was done in a reckless manner. When you slaughter an animal in the middle of a major airport next to an aircraft, it is bound to attract attention,” said an office-bearer of the Pakistan International Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA).

“When the staff starts seeking divine intervention, it means something is seriously wrong that needs to be fixed,” he added.

Aviation sources say the ritual sacrifice shows fear besetting the PIA employees associated with flight operations, especially those assigned to ATRs. “Ever since the flight PK-661 crashed, the staff sits fingers crossed whenever a flight takes off,” one source claimed.

A member of the Joint Action Committee of Pakistan International Airlines Employees (JACPIAE) says ATRs have been discarded by most airlines in the world but PIA still has nearly a dozen of them. “After every crash, we start waiting for the next tragedy to happen instead of fixing responsibility, and identifying and punishing those responsible.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Hamza
    Dec 19, 2016 - 9:40AM

    Why bother improving maintenance procedures, or bother working on safety protocols, or even have qualified people for the right jobs when you can just slaughter a goat? Confirms the general approach to all things in Pakistan. Ever so slightly out of tune with where the world has come to.Recommend

  • Y Malik
    Dec 19, 2016 - 10:58AM

    While PIA remains yet another mismanaged department of this Sharifu Pakistan and that PIA needs to focus on improving its systems, I do not find giving out sadqa as something to laugh about. We all give out sadqaa when we want to ward off the evil eye. It is a religious practice and needs to be respected. The apron was definitely not the right place to have done it and a picture could have been avoided. Recommend

  • ahmed
    Dec 19, 2016 - 11:02AM

    May ALLAH guide us all. Open up our brains which are rusted to such level that we even don’t want to remove the rust on our brains. Rather than improving the standards, these retarded brains show lack of responsibility on their part. Imran Khan is very right , the whole nation needs to stand up for the right and clean our misconceptions and misdeeds.A very despair state of matters.These things starts when for our interest and benefit we ignore the wrong happening around us.Believe it we are equally responsible for keeping quite on any wrong happening around us and we are aware of it.When we don’t care for others rights being abused sooner no body will care for Us being abused by others.Just imagine such a society where all wrong is considered right is destined to be doomed.Recommend

  • Adil
    Dec 19, 2016 - 11:05AM

    Please note: Qantas, American, Virgin, Ryan Air, Delta, Jet Blue and all of the Airlines of the World. Dispatch your maintenance to unemployment lines, save money kill a goat.
    PIA is saved.Recommend

  • Ali S
    Dec 19, 2016 - 11:57AM

    This is Pakistani mentality in a nutshell. Reminds of the time when a MPA in the Sindh assembly asked that there were no preparations for Cyclone Nilofar, the speaker responded that “Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine is on Karachi’s coast and it will protect us against natural calamities”. Really, this nation’s mindset is beyond recovery.Recommend

  • Proud to be Muslim
    Dec 19, 2016 - 5:49PM

    If they slaughtered a goat for getting “barkat” so what is wrong in this? It is rather a good sign of faith in ALLAH. Preparations / procedures cannot negate ALLAH’s will, we all know very well. I remember when I was employed at the head office of one of the largest banks of Pakistan and its lift dropped from 3rd floor to 3rd basement leaving serious injuries to some employees, the bank management also slaughtered 4 goats apart from improving its safety procedures. It is rather a very good gesture that we as Muslims believe in trying to get ALLAH’s sympathy with usual procedures.Recommend

  • Fia
    Dec 19, 2016 - 6:27PM

    Change your mindset, only then you can fly.Recommend

  • IBN E ASHFAQUE
    Dec 20, 2016 - 7:06AM

    Sadaqah is given by individuals………..not by corporate entities that do not follow quality inspection procedures…………..Recommend

  • Bilal
    Dec 20, 2016 - 7:31AM

    Whats mirctroblogging? also whats proofreading?Recommend

  • Capt: Muzaffar (PIA ret,)
    Dec 20, 2016 - 10:22AM

    @James Masih in Facebook. Sir, ATR is a jet. It is a turbo-prop. Meaning a propellor driven by a JET engine, not by combustion by cylinders. It is a propeller with variable pitch driven by a jet engine connected by variable gears. Just a slight correction. No offence intended.Recommend

  • Capt:Muzaffar (PIA ret )
    Dec 20, 2016 - 10:31AM

    @James Masih in Facebook. I have flown the Fokker F-27 for many years as copilot and Capt. It had Rolls-Royce Dart turbo prop engines. Definitely jet engines driving a propellor.
    I retired after flying Boeing 747’s for 11& half years. Cheers,Recommend

  • pakistani1414918
    Dec 24, 2016 - 5:38PM

    Barbarism. Where is the ‘sacrifice’ in all of this? Sacrifice is giving up something one needs or wants.

    While killing animals for a certain degree of protein might be needed, turning it into a sport is unacceptable as it happened here. I feel sorry for the animal. Whenever an animal dies, it should be killed with dignity without suffering. Hate these people.Recommend

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