Great people to fly with


PIA plane during taxi at airport | TheNewsTribeSome entered the corridors of power; others like Faiz found berths in cockpits, while many grabbed almighty chairs at profitable state enterprises and milked them.

A PIA co-pilot, who happens to be the son of a general, has pleaded guilty for being drunk before a British magistrate. He had his head bowed down and avoided eye contact when the judge confronted him with the inevitable question, “What made you put those passengers at risk?”

Captain Irfan Faiz was arrested for trying to embark a PIA plane to fly it under the influence of alcohol, with some 180 passengers on board. The late General Chishti’s son awaits trial, which could land him in jail for up to two years, loss of license to fly, etc. According to reports, the alcohol content in Faiz’s blood sample was found to be four times over the legal limit. “He appeared drowsy and was stopped on suspicion. Then they checked his alcohol level, which came out to be high.” The gentleman was immediately taken into custody by the police.

Faiz apparently thought he could get away with flying the plane back to Islamabad with hundreds of passengers on board who were unaware that their captain was a douche bag.

“The pilot has been suspended. The airline will take strongest action against him.” “…PIA will not provide any legal assistance in such cases,” an airline official told media.

Now whether the due process of law will take its natural turn or not in Pakistan against him is anybody’s guess.

To the dismay of Islamabad-bound passengers, flight PK-776 departed after a delay of 15 hours due to unavailability of an alternate captain. I wonder how many of these passengers missed connecting flights once they reached Pakistan’s capital for onward journeys. No follow up story has surfaced on this aspect.

Captain Irfan Faiz was reportedly involved in a similar incident a couple of years ago when he tried to operate an ATR plane while intoxicated. I guess he took care of the matter. He is a powerful Pakistani’s son, so I assume he carries some kind of immunity that helps him keep short-circuiting the system with alacrity.

Such are ‘Great People to Fly With’, a brand Pakistan’s national airline used in the 1960s and 1970s to woo travelers.

As most of us know, in our beloved Pakistan, some individuals still rule from their graves even though they had broken the law and subverted the constitution. The nation, fed up of the corrupt and the incompetent, had welcomed the khakis with the apex court baptizing their subversion in the ‘national interest’, keeping people’s sentiment as a guiding principle behind the law of necessity they applied to justify their verdicts.

Thus a path of least resistance was laid out for such sons. They peccadilloed their way wherever they saw gold mines and nuggets of high-flying lifestyles. Some entered the corridors of power; others like Faiz found berths in cockpits, while many grabbed almighty chairs at profitable state enterprises and milked them. In his mind I guess Faiz has always been okay with breaking rules. Since he probably has not had a mishap he probably thinks he can keep committing these transgressions.

Here is a reflection of national sentiment on the Faiz episode:

“What a country…A bus driver will not drive without a dose of ‘drugs’, and a pilot doesn’t fly a plane without alcohol.”

“He’s the son of the same general who backed General Zia to clamp Martial Law and that’s from when Pakistan’s descent began…”

The nation as we all know has been experiencing the tailwinds of such cloud nine flights both by the few adventurous men in khaki and some of their sons. The high and almighty General Ayub Khan’s sons dwarfed the fantasia and extravaganza that we used to read in novels with their stampedes to grab fortunes and their obsession with indiscretions, to put it mildly. The drunkard Yahya Khan took the entire nation on a ride until we found out on a December 16 that the eastern part of the country (now Bangladesh) had decided to ‘fly solo’. General Ziaul Haq did similar flying trapezes and sorties with the nation on his backseat, offering cookies and crackers of ideology and super value. We are still dizzy or shall we say tipsy with the ride. Zia’s son remains cashing in on his papa’s political capital and financial assets, which he says is his own earnings. General Akhtar Abdul Rehman’s sons keep playing the game of musical chairs with their wealth, power, politics, and opportunism.

These are the few great people the nation has been flying with, and we remain on board a flight to Blunderland. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was therefore right when he told the nation on TV, “Our biggest corporations are buckling under years of overstaffing, embezzlement, nepotism and corruption…The examples of PIA, Pak Steel Mills and Pak Railways are in front of you.”

However, Faiz and co are a phenomenon that is well beyond what Sharif mentioned. It is also beyond his political ability to handle. BY Irshad Salim


  1. General Chishti is alive and in good health. Get your facts straight.. As for his son, nothing justifies this behavior.. He deserves whatever the government throws at him.