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PIA Privatization Case: CJP Orders to Place All Former PIA MDs on ECL

By Maryam Iraj

CJP summoned the attorney general of Pakistan to seek reply from the federal government on the privatization of the airline. PIA -a national asset is on the verge of destruction for many reasons. But the most important reason for which it jetted down is its incompetent top-management.

Supreme Court (SC) took notice of PIA’s decision to give up profitable routes such as of JFK, New York , to other airlines and the intended privatization of the airline on April 1, 2018. PM Abbasi who is also the owner of Airblue may stand as the beneficiary of those surrendered routes. It takes immense monetary, strategic and managerial input to acquire a route which PIA management is willing to surrender so very easily. Privatization many also come up with the proposition of giving it up to China- the same way we lost K-electric. It’s a matter of national shame and embarrassment the way our national asset has been exploited to serve the petty interests of politicians and unions.

During the hearing on Thursday, CJP gave remarks, “they are making a commission so that the matter of PIA’s losses and alleged privatization could be investigated”.

Referring to the airline’s previous bosses, some of whom were attending the session, he remarked that “you all destroyed such a large asset…this is an injustice. Those who destroyed PIA are enemies and traitors” and he also summoned the MDs in whose tenure PIA suffered the most.

As the hearing began, the PIA’s lawyer presented a 9-year audit record and informed in response to a query that “the organisation’s share is being sold at Rs.5 at present”.

PIA’s lawyer further informed the court that the airline suffered huge losses in billions, such as: Rs.44 billion in 2013, Rs.37 billion in 2014, Rs.32 billion in 2015, Rs.45 billion in 2016 and Rs.44 billion in 2017.

Since the time PML-N came into power in 2013, privatization of PIA was at its top of the list. There is no doubt that it is draining the exchequer but the most important thing is who caused this cesspool in the first place. Supreme Court asked the federal government on March 31 of this year whether there was any intention to privatize the PIA.

The apex court had also  issued notices to PIA Chairman and Ministry of Defense directing them to submit their respective responses about any intention of the government to privatize this national asset.  The court’s orders further inquired about profitable routes of the national airlines which had been surrendered in favor of the other airlines, including Airblue.

The court ordered the federal government and PIA Chairman to ensure submission of their  comprehensive replies within one week from today and fixed the matter at the principal seat Islamabad by the second week of April.