Heres an interesting view on the Prime Ministers demand for the return of the ex-VIP 737 from PIA;
"Obviously those who surround the Prime Minister make sure he gets the worst kind of advice. Because the emperors in Pakistan rarely wear clothes, there has grown a legion of men and women whose mission in life is to refrain from ever pointing out this obvious fact to the emperors they serve. This is the quintessence of loyalty and if you were taught in school that flattery does not pay, return to your alma mater and set it on fire. As for Mr Jamali, he first asked for the entire PIA and having had it less than 24 hours before the Patriot missiles re-possessed it, has now opted for a Boeing 737. Or so the print media tells us. After the Iraq war of freedom, justice, liberation and jubilation, frankly one approaches the printed word with great hesitation.
It is not the first time the ill-fated 737 is the target of lascivious eyes. It is also not the last. Although our rulers emanate from the masses -- and they never tire of proclaiming this at every opportunity, there is little dirt of the same masses that clings to them once they arrive in power in Islamabad. Within minutes of inhaling its marijuana-laden scented avenues and the pomp and glory of ceremonial guards, shimmering dark-tinted limousines that hiss along the roads free of traffic, the heady sounds of sirens that precede their royal entourages and the fawning, grovelling, sycophants that cling to every syllable that escapes their lips and an entire network of men and women ready to do their bidding, the worthies are gone, beyond repair and beyond reason. The transformation is miraculous and awesome. Reason is rapidly replaced as is good sense and a balance, so vital for those in whose hands power ultimately resides, is thrown out without wasting too much time. Thus, freaky mutants, whose vision and comprehension of things extend no further than the edge of their noses, replace well-meaning and good-intentioned people who were speaking perfectly sensibly. This is the perfect illustration of power corrupts and because in Pakistan, power comes without responsibility and is absolute, it corrupts absolutely.
What is about the 737 that has their majesties enthralled? Ms Bhutto pined for it, Mr Nawaz Sharif drooled for it, and in between, whoever and whatever had half a chance, took it with eyes wide open and the dribble leaving a lake larger than the one at Tarbela Dam. Since the lords and ladies who have lived at the top could not afford to use standard seating, the wretched aircraft was constantly undergoing modifications to make it 'VIP Fit.'. I cannot think of a more disgusting way to announce to the world that you have arrived, but it seems grabbing the 737 is one sure way of marking your territory. I suppose sitting in the plush and luxurious surroundings with waiters scurrying about serving cucumber sandwiches at 30,000 feet has its own kick. Why you can look out of the windows and see your country below, mile after mile and get a high simply thinking that you are, after all, the lord and master of what lies beneath your feet, prostrate and helpless. You can fly over rivers and mountains, cities and farms, deserts and snow-caps and belch in satisfaction, because your writ rules all that you survey. You have arrived. It too must figure high on the achievement barometer that when you have your plane, all to yourself, you can come and go as you like and should you feel an urge to fly to Balochistan for your favourite sajji, who in the wide world is going to tell you it is not possible?
Mr Leghari, who seems to be the last flickering light of democracy in this dark tunnel, had little compunction in hijacking a PAF Boeing to ferry him and his sycophants all the way to the Commonwealth conference in New Zealand. Ironically, his contribution at that gathering was about as much as the flower pots that were arranged in the hall, but here, grovelling supporters and hangers-on told a bored nation that his presence augured well for the free world. When his plane conked out and made an unscheduled landing at Darwin, another jet was commandeered and flown to bring his excellency home! The Queen, the head of the Commonwealth, had refused a customised 747 and chose to fly on a regular commercial flight, but in our part of the world and in the eyes of Mr Leghari and his erstwhile happy revellers, the verdict must have been to dub the Queen the fool for abandoning her VIP status. What this junket cost the country or the time he took another chartered flight to the USA to attend his son's graduation (the trip was thinly disguised as a non-official official visit), is of course not known. Releasing information about such obscene amounts to the people might cause many to die of shock and in any case the system feeds on itself and in turn is fed by the system's master puppeteers. In between, the 737 has returned to PIA where it has earned much needed revenues for the airline, which is always in the same difficulties as the Pakistan Cricket Board. But stays in PIA are short lived and the VIPs win all the time.
What ails Mr. Jamali? Is it that out of an average 30 flights a day out of most major cities of Pakistan, he is hard pressed to make it to any one of them or is his paranoid complete? Even Mr Musharraf, who holds the country by the short and the curly, opts for regular PIA flights. What is Mr Jamali's beef? These are mysteries that surround our pathetic national existence. In another useless and utterly irrelevant column, years ago, I had made the harebrained suggestion that what terrific PR
mileage would the PM
or the President earn were he to travel economy, mingle with the ordinary folks, pat a few backs, shake a few hands, cuddle a few babies and make solicitous enquiries from the ladies travelling alongside. The USA has a long-standing tradition of what they call 'pumping flesh' but as a contact with the people device, it is great. Why not do that here as well? You can't get shot, you are unlikely to get hijacked and you can't be attacked with a plastic knife and fork. In any event, with Mr Jamali holding a 'jirga' in the economy section, there wouldn't be any traffic any way, but certainly much good will all around.
As for PIA losing millions in revenues and getting tied up in knots fitting in impossible schedules with one plane less, well who gives a damn? Since when was the effect of official policies and personal behaviour on the national exchequer ever a priority with those in power?".