Karachi (Dawn): TRAVELLING by road to Gilgit Baltistan is tantamount to inviting dangers to one’s life. This is because of the recent terrorist activities. You must be aware of the gruesome Gestapo-style murders in Kohistan and Chillas. Travelling on this road is like presenting the terrorists with your life. The government has failed to provide any security to the transport on the aforementioned route. Amid such circumstances the only alternative we, the people of GB, are left with is to travel by air but this too mostly is like performing a Herculean task.
First, there are not many flights on the route and then these flights are subjected to weather or the whims of PIA.
Just to give you an idea I am citing my own example. I haven’t visited my family for over a year. So I planned to visit my family, and the planning literally started like a month earlier. I booked a ticket from Islamabad to Gilgit on a date: a month down on the timeline because of the aforementioned dangers in road travel.
Because of the heavy traffic and scarce number of flights to Gilgit, there was no booking available on an earlier date. I consequently applied for leave from my job for a week, starting on the day I had to travel. Now after waiting for a whole month, what I get from PIA, the day before my departure, is that I can’t travel on the scheduled day because of the pending flights.
For extra money I am given a higher class seat on the plane scheduled to set off the day I was to take off and been waiting for about a month.
I even put up with this and reached the airport and checked in. Just before the departure we are told that the flight is delayed because of bad weather but I myself and many others were in contact back home and had been told by our families that the weather was all clear. The weather in Islamabad was all right because in the meantime planes took off for Karachi and Lahore.
PIA thus delayed the flight to Gilgit and we are asked to wait for about two hours. After two and a half hours we are told that the flight had been cancelled due to the bad weather.
This was beyond our comprehension because the weather was fine in Gilgit . It was fine in Islamabad and still there is no flight. I don’t know whether it was the weather or the whimsical behaviour of the flight captain. There was no one to answer. We were then told that the same flight had been rescheduled for the next day.
Helpless at the unprofessional behaviour, we agreed and got our tickets rescheduled for the next day but at night we are told on phone that the flight has been delayed even a day further, for reasons God knows .
The passengers comprised children, women and the handicapped too.
It is also pertinent to mention that the fares have already been raised too much and then these futile visits to the airport make the cumulative amount much higher. Also, if passengers are late or fail to turn up, they have to put up with fine but are not compensated for the time and money loss.
The authorities concerned should take measures to lessen the misery of the people who suffer much because of extremely dangerous road travel.
There are two possible solutions to the problem. In the short term, the number of flights from Islamabad to Gilgit and back be increased and, in the long run, Gilgit airport be upgraded for bigger planes that can fly in every weather. (written by Mir Hassan)