The horror of the November 5 plane crash in Karachi, which killed all 21 people on board (the bodies of the passengers were charred beyond recognition when recovered), evokes memories of an earlier incident just as tragic — the crash of Airblue flight ED202 in Islamabad which killed all 152 on board. A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that the plane, belonging to Jahangir Siddiqui (JS) Air, crashed due to possible engine failure —the control tower received reports from the pilot that there was a problem after take-off and the pilot was told to land back at the airport. Soon after the crash, images of the site splashed onto TV screens, with bulletin after bulletin giving detailed coverage, implicit with the promise that this tragedy will be investigated and justice will be done. The coverage was reminiscent of that of the Airblue crash when assurances of inquiry and answers were made but then the flood dominated headlines and the crash, with some 19 bodies still unidentified, was forgotten.
The CAA and investigative agencies have not completed the report of the Airblue crash and the administration has yet to release the compensation fund and insurance money to the victims’ families. It is a shameless state of affairs when these families are forced to form pressure groups to get what is their due right. This time, a JS Air spokesperson has confirmed that the black box of the aircraft has been recovered and that the technical team will investigate the fault — we hope this is done and the concluding report made public. The CAA has also ordered an inquiry into the crash. But what can we expect, when officials say that a report on the Airblue crash, which took place in July, could take up to a year? A transparent and prompt investigation, followed to the end, is the need of the hour, to assure that human life still has some value in this country and to restore people’s confidence in the system, particularly in the CAA.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2010.