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PM’s aviation adviser asks Senate body to ‘shut down’ PIA
May 20, 2017
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ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday sought support from lawmakers across party lines to declare the loss-making Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) ‘bankrupt’ and eventually shut it down.

Speaking before the Senate Special Committee on the Performance of PIA, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Aviation Sardar Mehtab Abbasi said: “Such a recommendation from a parliamentary committee will help the government take the difficult decision that it is otherwise hesitating to take.”

The committee, which met to discuss the status of its recommendations to overhaul PIA, also took up the incidents that had occurred over the past month that had given a bad name to both the national flag carrier and the country.

Abbasi laid three options before the committee: letting the national flag carrier run the way it was, operating in loss; declare it bankrupt and shut it down; or, restructure it.

“We are trying to restructure PIA, but it is an extremely difficult task,” he said, arguing that PIA lacked discipline, top-quality management, ethical and professional officers and a “sense of ownership”.

However, committee chairman Mushahidullah Khan, who belongs to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said the body was not in favour of shutting down PIA altogether.

“We believe that a few good officers at the top could restore PIA’s lost glory,” he said.

But Abbasi countered, saying: “Top quality people do not come to PIA anymore.”

Nonetheless, the members agreed that recommendations given by the committee and approved by the house could help turn PIA around.

In its recommendations the subcommittee has demanded that the present Board of Directors be dissolved on account of their inefficiency.

But the discussion took a different turn when the adviser asked members not to bind PIA with their recommendations.

“PIA should be run under business models, keeping in view the challenges facing the industry. It cannot run on recommendations that will limit PIA’s flexibility to adopt the best industrial practices,” Abbasi said.

But Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman cautioned him that rejecting the committee’s recommendations would be tantamount to undermining parliament.

PML-Functional Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah also observed that their recommendations were binding under the Constitution.

“Any observations should have been conveyed to the committee two months ago, when the recommendations were sent to the concerned ministry for feedback. The 60-day time to raise objections over the recommendations has now expired,” he said.


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