WEBDESK: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while on his two-week tour to attend the United Nations General Assembly session, appointed Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, on 28th September, as focal person on the Mina incident.
The appointee, in his maiden press conference in Islamabad, announced that the government would extend 0.5 million rupees to each deceased’s family, and 0.2 million for the family of the injured. This is baffling news on three counts.
First, the appointment was made four days after the incident itself and the delay speaks volumes for the despair that thousands of Pakistani families back home must have undergone – families with no contact with their loved ones for four days. Secondly and equally importantly, to make a focal person in Islamabad for an incident in Mina defies logic.
Surely our Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, whose terms of reference include dealing with any problem faced by any Pakistani national while present in Saudi Arabia, should have been declared the focal person and he should have been freely available to respond to queries from Pakistan.
And finally, the decision to give compensation to the families of the victims is simply untenable given that the incident took place in Saudi Arabia and not on Pakistani soil. The tendency to announce a compensation package from the taxpayers’ money may be considered appropriate for the displaced due to the ongoing Zarb-e-Azb operation or those who were victims of terror attacks as well as natural disasters given that it is the responsibility of the government to protect the life and assets of Pakistanis.
To announce a compensation package for the families of victims of the Mina tragedy is indefensible. One would hope that the government seeks compensation for the victims from the Saudi government.
What is also a source of serious concern is the sustained poor performance of PIA, with many returning pilgrims complaining about flight delays as well as failure to bring the luggage of the Hujjaj without any reasons being given. Nawaz Sharif would do well to note that he promised the nation he would appoint competent people to head the state-owned entities (SOEs).
Considering that the current head of PIA is a Sharif appointee and given that the PML-N has completed nearly half of its term such poor performance of PIA surely merits a change. It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister is not taking any notice of poor performance of his appointees – be they federal ministers or heads of SOEs – in spite of his commitment to the nation that he would fire all those who do not perform soon after he took over power.