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July 24, 2019

Wrapped in confusion


July 24, 2019

One can thank the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for showing how poorly policies are conceived at the helm of the bureaucracy. For some reason, the CAA issued a notification last week making it mandatory for all passengers travelling out of Pakistani airports to wrap their luggage in plastic before checking it in. The decision had nothing to do with international regulations. Instead, as pandemonium ensued, it was claimed that this was for the security of passengers. The logic of plastic wrapping is usually to protect one’s bag from being damaged, but this is usually a choice that passengers make on their own. Moreover, anyone who did pay Rs50 per bag for the plastic wrapping offered by the CAA quickly discovered that the plastic wrapping in question was fairly thin and provided little protection. Amidst the raging debate on social media, for some strange reason, Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir made an appearance to defend the plastic requirement claiming it was a requirement from Saudi Arabia as well as a demand from Pakistani security authorities. Again, people were left wondering how the same minister could be banning plastic bags from Islamabad and defending plastic wrapping on luggage in the same breath.

It is clear that there was little to no thought process involved in the original decision — which also led many to look into which vendor was awarded the contract for said plastic wrapping. Thankfully, better sense prevailed and the CAA withdrew the notification late on Sunday night. Any security concerns regarding luggage cannot be solved by plastic wrapping. In a very encouraging sign, some government ministers and PTI leaders had the good sense to criticize the move as well, which probably also ensured its quick reversal. For now, all seems settled but we do need the government to ensure that its promises regarding green-friendly policies are not mere words on paper. It would be a shame if such policies were sacrificed at the altar of hare-brained ideas such as the withdrawn CAA notification. ‘Climate change’ and the ‘environment’ may make for great slogans but also require dedicated work and commitment so that our younger generations can see a green and healthy country.

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