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May 27, 2020

After the crash

Editorial

 
May 27, 2020

After the air-crash tragedy that claimed 96 lives onboard with just two miraculous survivors in Karachi, speculations are rife about the possible causes of the crash. But before discussing that, we would like to highlight a couple of other things too. First, the irregular construction of multistoried buildings in close proximity with the airport should be a cause of concern for building-control authorities not only in Sindh but in other provinces too. When the unfortunate plane crashed on a residential area in Model Colony, the streets were too narrow for the rescue vehicles to reach the crash site. It is a common occurrence in most cities of Pakistan that house owners extend their home boundaries well into the streets illegally, and thus the approach roads and the width of streets keeps narrowing. It is good that the Edhi and Chhipa Trust ambulances, and rescue workers from other state and non-state organizations were prompt in reaching the crash site.

In most cases, whenever an accident takes place our rescue efforts are not well-coordinated. Individuals and organizations respond to the tragedy in their own way, resulting in haphazard rescue work. Finally, when such tragedies take place, we go into an overdrive to propound various theories without waiting for the inquiry to complete. People also start showing their apprehensions about the impartiality and transparency of such inquiries. This is because in the past most inquiry reports were not released and shared with the public. In this particular case, we would like to underscore the importance of a thoroughly professional and independent inquiry involving technical experts of civil aviation, Airbus representatives, and maybe a couple of senior pilots who can critically analyze the available data from the black box, and from air-traffic control.

In the past we have seen that such inquiries were delayed till the time people forget about them; this practice must stop. Finally, may we say that it would have made for sensitive solidarity had the prime minister visited Karachi. Such matters are fairly serious and we as a nation need to reconsider our attitudes. We suggest that while the inquiry is being held, a thorough review of the nearby localities of all major airports in the country should be carried out. All high-rises and towers in the vicinity of airports must be dismantled. All major cities of the country must have a functioning and well-oiled rescue mechanism that should spring into action immediately after any such unfortunate accident. And finally, we must stress the importance of an independent and transparent inquiry into the crash so that the facts can be shared with the people.