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Bhoolja‘ is not the name of an airline. It simply means (they will) ‘forget it’. It is also a mindset, a mental inertia of those who choose lip service over actions, cosmetics over contents, first aid over root causes and ‘buddyism’ over competence. When a state adopts this mindset as its official policy, a series of mindless events begin to happen. Buddies become Director Generals and ‘shake-down’ inspections begin to replace the stringent airworthiness requirements and procedures. Check out a Boeing 737-200 Manual, and you will find daily checks, transit checks, B checks, C checks and D checks but nowhere will you find the ambiguous and skin-deep ‘shakedown’ checks that were ordered by the government to convey an image of doing something important. Bhoolja’ is based on a belief that peoples’ memory, anger and emotions have a short shelf life and can be easily pacified by lame statements such as “PM or President have taken a notice or ordered an inquiry”. That is where all matters come to an end.

For any accident to happen there ought to be immediate, contributory and root causes. The root causes often point towards poor management practices. However when organizations adopt the ‘bhoolja’ ideology it does not take long for things to start falling apart. The current buddy system has created leaders who are neither capable nor interested in determining the root causes. Although a system of permits, licenses, and approvals exists for most functions, they continue to remain poorly regulated. Only this year, 30 workers died in a boiler explosion in Lahore, although industrial boilers undergo a yearly inspection and approval. A few weeks later, 150 heart patients died because they received contaminated Iso-Tab tablets. The entire system of drug licensing, inspections and controls failed to detect the presence of anti-malarial Pyrimethamine ingredients. The aeroplane that fell down in Islamabad and killed 127 persons had all the licenses, approvals and airworthiness certificates. Only if these had been effective, there would have been no need to order the vague, superficial and frivolous ‘shake down’ inspections.

It is time to realize that we need to do away with the ‘bhoolja’ approach, de-politicise our institutions and insist that they follow professional and ethical standards. Our BAA (Buddy Aviation Authority) is just not in the right business. It took them three years and two letters in the press to correct the spellings of what was written as ‘Perlimantrians’ at the Jinnah Airport check-in counter. An organization that cannot see dozens of people smoking in the lounges and scores smoking on the concourse of the airport can hardly be trusted to keep an eye on the engineering aspects of modern-day jet airliners.

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