The government looks set to finally get the PIA Bill passed in a joint session of parliament on Monday. This is not due to any move to reconcile the government’s perspective with the opposition’s; but instead the majority in both houses will prove to be all it takes to get the bill passed.

After getting shot down by the Senate, the PML-N has decided to proceed with or without the support of the other parties, and although the decision to make this a priority should be commended, an attempt to bring opposition into the fold by addressing their concerns would not have gone amiss.

The PIA Bill could potentially have lasting consequences for the government and opposition benches within parliament. Both houses have seen PPP and PTI united in opposition against the bill, and this partnership could be solidified after both parties realise that two voices ring louder than one. Opposition to the bill by political parties is not based on legitimate concerns however; the protestation is merely political. If the government can be pressurised to review its decision, which is unlikely, the opposition will have won a significant victory against the government, which it sorely needs, with the argument concerning the bartering of a national asset not holding any weight against the large amounts of losses the national carrier continues to face.

As it stands, the government has nearly finalised the details of PIA’s fifth bailout package in the last three and a half years; a staggering amount of Rs24 billion is on the table to keep the airline running for the next four months. With a debt payment due on Tuesday and other expenses to provide for, and the national carrier not making nearly enough money to pull it self out of the hole, how much more evidence does the country need before it gets behind the government in the privatisation process? The global slump in oil prices has made business easier for almost every big corporation, and one would think that PIA would be no different considering that fuel costs take a big chunk out of its revenues. But all evidence suggests that in its current state, there is no ‘fixing’ PIA. The strike by workers in February cost over Rs4 billion, a cost that is no longer affordable. While the government still has to answer for what happened there, with employees killed and others forced to come back to work through the Essential Services Act, privatising PIA needs to happen, and this time, the government should not move the process to a later date.