SURMISES about the fitness of the pilot as well as the aircraft and the relaxation recently effected in the safety rules have started making the rounds to assign the blame for the second biggest plane tragedy in the countrys history that occurred in Islamabads Margalla Hills on Wednesday. The facts aside, the points raised by experts deserve serious consideration. A perceptive airline critic has questioned the logic behind letting a pilot of over 60 fly an aircraft, arguing that people in countries, where Pilot Pervaiz Iqbals age would not necessarily be a disqualification, enjoy better health; besides, in this particular case, Mr Iqbal was suffering from diabetes and hypertension. His religious fervour and possible long prayers in the preceding night that was Shab-e-Barat have also been mentioned. Whatever might have been the cause of the disaster - the strikingly bad weather that blocked the view of the hills, the pilots unfamiliarity with the lie of the land around the airport, his rest that might have fallen short of the mandatory flying requirement, some other human error, the poor maintenance of the aircraft or failure of any of its vital parts that led to its malfunction - it was a great tragedy that took away 152 precious human lives in just a flash. It has plunged the entire nation into mourning, not to talk of the grief that their kith and kin have to bear for the rest of their lives. While the probe, already under way, would likely pinpoint the real culprit behind the crash, it is painful to reflect on what the Fates had decreed for the couple on honeymoon, with lots of plans for the new chapter in life they had just opened, the members of the Youth Parliament aspiring to make their mark by ridding the global political systems of the evils that have crept in, and other passengers with varying dreams. In fact, the crash suddenly extinguished the flame of the myriad hopes that each of the travellers might be carrying and put an end to the expectations their family members had of them. Even more painful for the friends and relatives of the dead is the fact that not many bodies are in an identifiable condition; for a large number, there could be found only charred remains, broken limbs, bits and pieces of bone. Whether timely rescue operation, delayed by heavy rains and winds or difficult accessibility of the site of the tragedy or sheer lack of coordination between the various concerned agencies that some circles have alleged would have saved some lives, is a moot point. The investigators would hopefully reach some conclusion. If we have to prevent the occurrence of such incidents in the future, there must be a transparent and impartial probe; the responsibility must be fearlessly fixed, in case the disaster was the result of human error; and the internationally recognised flight safety standards must be adhered to. The immense loss the nation has suffered cannot brook leniency.