The National Flag Carrier: From Pakistan to the World

Written By: Osman Ali Ansari

August 14, 1947, was a day when the world witnessed awestruck, as a nation, fueled and spurred by the pride and love of their religion ousted a government formed by people who believed themselves to be enlightened. What ensued was a conflict of monumental proportions and the alteration of the world map. Two nations appear
ed on the globe, one which was formed on the sole basis of religion. Relations between the two could not be labeled as friendly or hospitable. Hostility ran afoot and sparks flew whenever representatives of the two countries met, either in the board room or on the cricket pitch. The two nations came to be called as Pakistan and India.

It was under these circumstances that Pakistan International Airlines, with its hub at Quaid e Azam International Airport at Karachi, began its operation with only three DC-3 “Dakotas”. Despite suffering from lack of trained personnel and equipment, PIA went on to order more advanced airliners, becoming one of the only Asian airlines to operate State of the Art Boeing 707-245 and Boeing 747-200 jet aircraft. PIA was further given the honor of being the first non communist state to operate flights to Beijing, strengthening ties between Pakistan and soon to be economic super power of the world, China.

However, all was not good in the upper echelons of the management. Despite the fact that PIA had gained a massive market share and the fact that it were two airplanes leased from PIA by Emirates and technical expertise including pilots, ground crew and engineering which PIA lent to Emirates which allowed the latter to begin operations, despite the fact that airlines such as Singapore Airlines studied the PIA model before setting up their own airlines, PIA began to suffer. The familiar green tail of the airplane flying miles above the ground was nowhere to be seen. The organization which was the trend setter for various other organizations and was the model for success for them began to falter.

Losing its market share to other Middle Eastern airlines, having to battle with airlines with airplane fleets of over 80 aircraft while PIA only had 50, and had to cater to both domestic and international traffic alongside battling with operational difficulties which included corruption in the system, demand for pay rises by the staff and government inefficiencies, the national flag carrier suffered, massively. The EU ban on all of PIA’s aircraft excluding the fleet of Boeing 777, was the cherry on top.

However, this is all that people around the world see. That PI
A, with its signature green flag tail, with more aircraft at Heathrow, London and JFK, New York as compared to Karachi or Lahore, is an organization which cannot and will not even come close to the excellence offered by other airlines. I, however, respectfully disagree. Having travelled in airlines such as Emirates, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Cathay Pacific and PIA, I can respectfully say that the comfort and the sense of belonging which I experience while travelling in PIA is unrivalled to any. In other airlines I am merely a passenger, in PIA, I’m a Pakistani and I’m part of the “Great People to Fly With”.

Viewing the organization and dissecting its various operations, we come across a few avenues. PIA Cockpit crew, Cabin Crew, Engineering, Ground Crew, Operations and Management. As far as Cockpit crew, Cabin Crew and Ground Crew is concerned, all are trained extensively to face any and all emergencies they may encounter while on ground or while airborne. While PIA was inducting Boeing 777 in their fleet, slight technical malfunctions, which are quite normal in new aircraft, caused landing gear to overheat resulting in smoke in the cabin while the aircraft was taxiing for takeoff at Heathrow, London. In a pressurized environment, such toxic gases are deadly. In those critical seconds, the pilots had to monitor flight instruments, shut down flight systems and authorize and enable passenger evacuation systems. Cabin crew was to oversee a timely and safe passenger evacuation and Ground Crew to secure the aircraft. All activities by all three parties were completed in less than a minute, reflecting on the excellence in training and sheer discipline in conduct by all PIA personnel.

While travelling I occasionally come across people berating the equipment which the airline operates. Deplores the state of the aircraft and how old it actually is often comparing it to the equipment which Emirates, Qatar Airways or Etihad operate. Refuting these claims, Pakistan International Airlines has been operating in losses for the past few years now. Reasons for which are countless but can be broadly categorized into management inefficiencies. Despite these facts, PIA has managed to purchase Boeing 777 airliners, which are the most advanced airliner in the skies. Phasing out its ageing Fokker F-27 fleet, PIA purchased French ATR-42-500s which are now serving its domestic routes. PIA has also completed a deal escalating into millions of dollars for 22 new aircraft to phase out its older aircraft. Aviation giants, Airbus and Boeing have expressed complete confidence in PIA Engineering in maintaining the aircraft and certifying its airworthiness. To those who worry that the aircraft can break into pieces while flying simply because it says “Pakistan International” on the fuselage, they are flying in an aircraft being flown by some of the world’s best, maintained by some of the most widely respected and are being taken care of the some of the most hospitable cabin crews in the sky.

Pakistan International Airlines like any other organization has had its share of ups and downs. Let us not forget the excellence of the fleet, pilots and engineering along with Management which allowed a brand new Boeing 720 to fly from Heathrow to Karachi in 6 hours and 44 minutes, a record for the fastest flight flown over such a distance. A record that remains unbroken to date. Let us not forget those individuals who strive to ensure that the green flag bearing the crescent and the star flies miles above the earth. With over 40 international destinations in over 30 countries spanning 4 continents, Pakistan International truly has taken Pakistan to the World. In the words of the current Managing Director of PIA, Captain Aijaz Haroon, “We shall rise”. Indeed, they shall.

Fashion - An Evolution In Pakistan

Written By: Javeriah Jaleel

Paris, New York, London and Rome are the cities mentioned when it comes to western fashion. But now, be it western or eastern fashion, Lahore and Karachi are also emerging as the centre of attraction for all. The city of lights along with Lahore is now becoming an attractive spot for fashion shows and western designers. It’s for this reason fashion weeks are being held in both the cities. Being an Islamic state and always being linked with terrorism, Pakistan is now revolutionizing its image and opening up to fashion.

Previously, Pakistani fashion was widely acknowledged globally, but Dubai was the hub for all transactions related to the fashion industry. The evolution in the society will now create platform for various designers to show their talent globally without use of any hub. The revolution in the fashion industry is the evidence of the humongous potential of growth that the society in Pakistan has. A well-known designer, Sahar Atif, commented on the opportunity that lies for the designers in the Pakistani society, “the industry is fearless and now, no challenge is big enough to hamper the growth of fashion. Forward is the only way to go! The prerequisites for development of any industry, not just fashion, are political and economic stability, which we can all hope and pray for. This will eventually lead to Pakistani designers and fashion making its mark internationally”. This shows that if the industry is provided with a good growing ground it can become the identity of Pakistan all over the world. The industry has a growth potential, in both the local and international market. Recently, Pakistan’s own fashion magazines have also started to emerge showing new trends and changing people’s mindsets. The Pakistani fashion industry is filled with highly reputed designers who have successfully created a positive fashion statement for the country. They have auspiciously polished the name of our fashion industry in the global fashion market. One such phenomenal personality in our industry is Hassan Shehryar Yasin (HSY). Hassan Shehryar launched his ”HSY” label in 2000 and with the passage of time his time his collection of bridal and formal wear become one of the renowned collection not only in Pakistan but also amongst the top south Asian labels known in the world. A studio started in Lahore has now expanded to have six more internationally. This nine year old brand has in its initial stages created hype for Pakistani fashion and its own brand globally. HSY’s collection is a mix of a lot of diversities which tend to depict the rich eastern heritage. His clothes are a combination of classical elegance and modern sophistication. His recent bridal collection (for males and females) depicts this combination fabulously and has been applauded in both the local and international markets. Besides being tagged as the success of the label “HSY”, he has also been labeled as one of the Top Ten Faces of 2003, by the fashion magazine Diva. HSY has participated in various global and local fashion shows that have taken place recently, such as Bio Natural Black Shine Carnival De Couture, PDFC fashion week and so on. However, to further increase HSY’s popularity, he has recently started a new line of jewelry.

“Deepak Perwani” another victorious name of the Pakistani fashion industry has been serving both the markets since 1994. He started off by revolutionizing the men’s wear by introducing the grandoise men’s wear collection. Once he becomes the “bad boy” of the men’s wear line, he introduced a female wear in 1996, with the main outlet in ZamZama Street of Karachi. His astonishing collection of clothes reflects a mix of the past, present and the future culture of Pakistan along with the fusion of east and west. His modern thought, which is reflected in his clothes, makes him a designer icon for designers locally and abroad. His achievements are further glorified by his Indus Style Guru Award and the Lux Style Award for his men’s wear. He was also the first Pakistani to participate in the Kuala Lampur Fashion Week (KLFW), and he represented Pakistan at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Besides this, he has also been associated with highly recognized brands such as Hugo Boss, Mercedes Benz, and so on. After achieving many such glories Deepak Parwani went global and stocked his clothing in the famous cities of Dubai, London, New York, Dallas and Singapore. One most highlighting factor about this icon rather than a man, is his being included into the”guinness book of world records”. The kurta that he made along with 50 other professionals in 30 days was the world’s largest kurta. According to Deepak Perwani, "the kurta is an intrinsic symbol of Pakistani attire, and (this garment) has successfully put it on the global map. A kurta represents the essence of what we are and defines our individuality in today's world."

No matter in what part of the world he launches his collection, it’s applauded by everyone anywhere. Recently, after a successful show in Milan he launched his new collection “Amrita” in the fashion week. His collection was highly liked by the audience and became a tremendous success. However, one thing that remained common between the two shows despite the difference of geography is the traditional touch in the collections. His unique collection with a little traditional touch in a colorful palate startled not only the audiences but also made him prominent amongst the other designers at the show. At Milan the prints, embellishments, designs, mirror work that he showcased in the fashion show were unique and fun. Deepak Perwani has outperformed all the categories of the products that he produces and improvised on the meaning of fashion for Pakistanis by his incomparable thought and designing abilities.

Besides the above mentioned designers, there are various other names that have arisen to great heights which include Amir Adnan, Junaid Jamshed, Ayesha Varsi, Saadia Mirza, Bunto Kazmi, Maria B. and many more. All these people have contributed towards converting the perception about Pakistan from that of an extremist Islamic state to a modern state of the 21st century. An excellent evidence of this is the fashion week held in Lahore and Karachi (consisting of display by 52 designers out of which 49 were the local ones and rest international). Both these events consisted of well known designers such as HSY, Ayesha Varsi and so on. Both the events were successful and received a huge amount of appreciation by the crowd despite high security threats. This is a proof that Pakistani market has a great potential and emerging designers have a great opportunity in this industry.

However, in Pakistan fashion shows are not just of the clothing but now days fashion shows for the Arabic robes (Burqa) are also taking place. These days, fashion is inclusive of that. Recently, a designer named Bushra Shahid has launched a new line of wear by the name “Farichinio” consisting of the Arabic, Bridal, western and Formal wear for ladies.