Unending Misery

Following the May 22 crash, PIA has a chance to rise above other airlines and demonstrate to the world that it is a more caring air carrier.

By Khawaja Amer | February 2021


The Friday afternoon of May 22, 2020, was supposed to be a day of celebration for 99 families of Pakistan as they were set to celebrate Eid al-Fitr festivities together, after two months of separation due to the Covid-19 lockdown. But destiny had something else in store for them. PIA flight PK8303 which was to unite the near and dear ones in a couple of minutes crashed in a densely-populated residential area near Karachi's Jinnah International Airport while it was making its second attempt to land. The incident not only shattered the families of the air crash victims but the nation as a whole. Two people were fortunate enough to survive the crash, while 97 were killed. It was a great tragedy for the families of the deceased as they instantly became victims of depression, utter helplessness and the belief that life could be this painful.

Naim Beg, who lost his only son Mirza Waheed Beg, a 27-year-old with dreams of a bright future in his eyes, was made to run from pillar to post to find his son’s remains. What he saw at the site of the accident is a bit too frustrating. PIA staff were not there to identify the luggage. Strangely enough, there were some neatly pressed clothes instead of burnt clothes and a couple of other items except laptops and tablets. Surprisingly enough, there were no cell phones, probably because these may have contained some informative videos taken by the passengers. After the extremely painful process of identifying the body, like other family members of the deceased, Naim Beg is still trying to get compensation under the law.

According to Beg, the families of the deceased have received an initial amount of Rs. 1 million from the federal government. Now PIA is offering Rs. 10 million to the families on the condition that they will sign an indemnity bond. The families have refused to sign such a bond as there is the Peshawar High Court ruling on the Air Blue air crash case that has categorically barred families from signing such a document. This has also been endorsed by the Karachi Ombudsman. Moreover, Naim Beg argues that when PIA gets Rs. 1 billion as passenger insurance from the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL), paying Rs. 10 million to the families of the deceased is just peanuts -- in fact, the deepest of insults to families.

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