What ails our SOEs?
Pakistan’s state owned enterprises (SOEs) have been slowly but surely deteriorating over years because of wrong choice of CEOs and our refusal to hire best qualified team of professionals to head management with moral integrity and specialisation in relevant fields, instead of jacks of all trades.
Every government talks about promoting education or keeping abreast with latest technological advances and adopting corporate system, but ends up appointing semi-literate cronies to head SOEs. For instance regulating power distribution and its economical production is a specialised field. Improvements can only be achieved if latest technological advances are incorporated to check theft with credible efficient distribution system capable to absorb any increase in capacity after adopting most cost effective mode of production viz a viz source of energy namely hydel, thermal etc. Unfortunately when a government facing an acute energy crisis comes up with a decision to appoint a retired uniformed officer whose sole qualifications are bachelor of engineering and masters in defence strategy, apart from his tenure of heading a distribution network in Karachi, with highest line losses and illegitimate connections.
Similarly just like every child’s fantasy with pilots and firefighters, it shocks the imagination that successive governments think that piloting skills are sufficient to help national carrier PIA turn around, although annual balance sheet proves otherwise.
A professional commercial pilot is as qualified to head an airline as an engine driver is to head Railways. The sole exception was Air Marshall Nur Khan, a man with impeccable integrity who given powers to hire and fire, knowing his limitations, hired best qualified team to handle management. Thereafter given technological advances in aviation, it requires best qualified specialists in the fields of marketing, finance, procurement and automation, with fool proof check and balances to avoid pilferage, not just a tough guy.
The choice of Musharraf to appoint a Formanite whose sole qualification was that he was considered a tough guy in college, failed to achieve any results because during his tenure executive corridor was monopolised by mediocrity and for the first time senior executives appointed were not even graduates. The fact that there is no private or state owned successful airline involved in scheduled operation headed by a pilot, does not deter successive governments to appoint their cronies.