Byline: Arifa Noor
A PLANE crash will become a tragedy and a controversy anywhere in the world. Pakistan is no different though it wasn't long before a heartbreaking moment turned into a mess.
Barely had the people come to terms with the tragedy of lives lost and families devastated that the government broke the news of a dysfunctional industry which was afflicted with a serious problem - pilots with fake or questionable licences. Whether or not anyone in PIA took notice, the rest of the world did.
Before long, PIA flights to Europe were suspended and many Pakistani pilots working elsewhere in the world were reported to have been stopped from flying till their licences had been verified. And obviously, the coming days may bring more such news.
There was a flood of criticism on the thoughtlessness of the government, which is known for shooting from the hip. (It appears as if this phrase was invented just for some of those in power at the moment.)
The pilot debate reminds one of a different controversy where similar arguments were witnessed.
There were, however, a few voices, mostly of those close to the government, who tried to argue that the recent crashes in Pakistan pointed towards serious problems within our air industry - just consider the number of air crashes in the past decade - and if this was linked to allegedly shady licences or questionable training of pilots then is it not better to address the problem than keep it under wraps as has been our wont. However, keeping the polarisation in politics in mind, most people stuck to their arguments and sides.
The incident reminded one of a different controversy where a similar division and similar arguments were witnessed. Or if this may prove too offensive to the polarised views within us, it can be said that an analogy can be drawn to a past controversy.
Before the 2018 elections, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had given an interview to this paper in which he spoke of the Mumbai attacks. He asked if 'non-state actors' should be allowed 'to cross the border and kill 150 people'. He then asked why Pakistan could not complete the trial (of those allegedly involved in the attacks who were being tried on this side of the border).
The short, few sentences kicked up quite a storm. He was criticised for what he said and what it implied about Pakistan and its relationship with militant organisations.
Then too the debate, which was heated and emotional, seemed roughly divided between those...