Beautiful and precious lives were lost. Lives who had plans for Eid, for the ambitions they had in their lives, for the favourite shows and sports some of those little angels were going to indulge in. None of that would be happening. It all came down crashing in one instant of an unfortunate accident. The entire nation felt the grief.
But the crash did remind me of the movie Babel. It is not about some plane crash. But rather about an accident that connects four groups of people on three different continents. The people have almost no connection to each other. Yet, the decisions they take connect them in a bizarre, organic way. A rifle is used by two Morrocan kids to mistakenly shoot a tourist bus that is filled with American tourists. That rifle was gifted to a Moroccan man by a Japanese tourist many years ago when the latter visited Morocco. That man sells that rifle to a fellow Morrocan, who is the father of those two kids.
The bullet wound in the neck of the American woman results in excruciating circumstances for her and husband Brad Pitt in a foreign country. The ordeal affects their children who are in America left in the custody of a Mexican maid. In short, interesting stories intersect because of the mistakes made.
The dreams and hopes of the people on the crashed plane were throttled not necessarily by the neglect in the moments before the flight. This goes way back. This is not much different than the story of the movie mentioned above. Someone somewhere is responsible for this dereliction of duty in a more complicated way than the rating-hungry broadcast media can even venture into thinking. They consider being the first ones to broadcast dead bodies as classy journalism.
Somewhere in the PIA chain. many people got jobs they were incompetent for. While these employees started a career, and settled into their happy family lives, other groups of families died last week because of those very incompetent hiring practices prevalent especially during the days when the parents of Bilawal and Maryam were in charge. Someone in charge made a series of decisions with a few strokes of the pen koshering the hiring of incompetence and laziness. The real dereliction of duty is allowing those who do not take their duty seriously.
While in the movie, the Japanese tourist could not have foreseen the use of the gun by little kids as he had left it in the hands of a responsible man, the men with more than sufficient belly fat sitting on the ever consumed chairs should have realised that leaving aircraft operations in the hands of incapable men is like leaving children in the custody of serial paedophiles. The only result would be devastation. Doesn’t require much talent to connect these dots.
The pain of this incident is not a pain to be dealt with with a painkiller. It is rather a cancer to be understood deeply and with history. Firing a few people who didn’t do their job is not the answer. Because ending the culture of bringing people who wouldn’t do their job is the key. Ending the culture of sleepy watchdogs is the key.
The feel-good solution that would perhaps even be enough for public consumption would be to fire and shame the one man or a bunch of them for not ensuring the wheels would come out before landing. But as I mentioned above, the real solution would be to ensure such men are not only not hired but also that there should be no culture of sleepy watchdogs. Has enough blood spilled to completely revamp the culture of the organisation? Or are we going to simply do the Pakistani thing: mourn, chill, and forget?
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2020.