Fariza Mehtab (Morder)
It was a chilly day of December 2016 I was sitting in my room. The TV was on when all of a sudden a news ticker grabbed my attention and my heart skipped a bit. It said a PIA passenger plane has crashed near Havelian. I was shattered to the core because being a Chitrali I could imagine that many of my friends or friends of friends or any other familiar person will be in the plane. I called my brother who himself was devastated but wasn’t sure about the passengers and within a few moments the list of passengers was displayed on TV and all other social media platforms.
That is when the news hit me hard because up until now I didn’t put a face to the victims but when the list was displayed the very first name that caught my eye was Ayesha. Ayesha and I were friends from College, we used to live in hostel and we were roommates. Those were the craziest two years of my life; she was so fun loving and full of life and positivity. Two months before the crash I was coming from Chitral to Islamabad on the same PIA flight when I met her. Our flight to Islamabad was very rough; the way the flight was making scary sounds and its turbulence made the overall journey very horrible. I remember how tightly we hugged each other and excitedly she introduced me to her husband and told me that they got married a few weeks ago. We talked for a while and promised each other to plan a reunion with other friends as well but that didn’t happen because that was our last meeting.
One of the victims was my teacher from high school Mr. Muhammad Khan who was a role model for everyone in the village. A loving father, a husband, and a humanitarian, he was perfect in every role. Our village in Chitral is quite a remote area where education specifically quality education is hard and people like Muhammad Khan with their hard work and success send out the message especially to the youth that it isn’t about the school if you will work hard and chase your dreams then nothing is impossible. And his loss was a blow for all of us because a village which was already deprived of educated people lost another gem.
There was also another person from the same village, Salman Zain, who was coming to Islamabad for the orientation of his new job in Hashoo Foundation. Another humble, sober, respected and educated person from a backward mountainous area who would help God knows how many students in getting scholarships from his area but life didn’t allow him.
These three people were among the 47 victims I knew personally and their sudden death and then the events followed led us to a series of emotional trauma. The wait at PIMS for over two weeks and then the report of the investigation committee on why the crash happened were the highlights of the entire painful episode.
After long wait when finally the commission report came out it said the turbine blades were to be changed after completion of 10,000 hours of use on next immediate maintenance opportunity. The said engine was under maintenance on Nov 11, 2016, and at that time these blades had completed 10,004.1 hours of use and were due for a change. This activity should have been undertaken at that time but it was missed out by those concerned.
Imagine not doing your job properly and putting innocent lives on stack. For some reason I feel that it is our fault that our national organizations are not held accountable for the blunders they make. We as a nation are very resilient. When something like this happens we outpour our love for the victims, change our Facebook DPs to black to show solidarity, criticize PIA authorities and then we become silent like nothing ever happened at all.
That is why when this report came out no action was taken and no arrests were made. I wonder how many more lives are required for the government to act responsibly and bring the people to justice who are not qualified for the roles they are assigned.
Yes accidents do happen in every country but in other countries they do not happen so frequently. The last fatal plane crash in US was back in 2009 when Colgan Air flight 3407 crashed near Buffalo New York killing all the 49 people on board and one person on the ground. It was the last fatal plane crash in New York and after that safety measures in air travel were regulated. Our neighbor India has its last crash on May 2010 and after that no passenger flight was crashed.
It’s high time that our government needs to take lives seriously. All the people who lost their lives in the recent crash and all the previous ones were asset of our country. They had so many dreams and so much to do in their lives. But due to the careless behavior of our so called national airline we are losing precious lives after every few years and this will continue to be like this if no proper measures are taken.
It is high time that the government must intervene and hire people who are actually qualified for their assigned position. This nation has lost enough lives because of our incompetent office holders, now is the time that we become unite as a nation and put pressure on all the office bearers to investigate these crucial matters, public the actual report and then take action against the responsible ones.
I once read a quote somewhere which said “Shor na karain qom so rahi hai” (Don’t make noise the nation is sleeping). This fits so well in the present situation but let’s see when will this nation wake up but let’s hope that it isn’t too late that time.