Shujaat Azeem resigns after curbing of powers by Supreme Court

Published: December 14, 2015
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Shujaat Azeem. PHOTO: FILE

Shujaat Azeem. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Pakistan’s embattled aviation czar Shujaat Azeem resigned on Monday as the Special Assistant to prime minister on Aviation, citing work restriction imposed by the Supreme Court as his reason.

Last week, a Supreme Court bench barred him from participating in affairs of the aviation division in response to a petition filed by pilots’ union against his appointment.

“He has submitted his resignation to the prime minister,” a spokesperson for the aviation division said.

The resignation comes “in wake of the observations of Supreme Court restraining him from taking ‘any independent decision’ with regard to matters of aviation division.”

The way court’s observations were being interpreted by “various vested interests” was coming in way of his duties, the spokesperson added.

15-day restriction: Top court bars aviation adviser from work

“Shujaat Azeem would submit a full defence privately through his counsel. He will vigorously contest the allegations made against him.”

This is not the first time Azeem has resigned. He had to leave office of Prime Minister’s Aviation Adviser in 2013 after Supreme Court raised concern about his dual nationality and court martial history.

The latest development has come at a time when government is embroiled in a tussle with labour unions of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) over its privatisation.

Azeem has been instrumental in arranging government funds to finance induction of 16 aircraft in PIA’s fleet since the PML-N government took office in 2013. Never before has the airline included such number of planes in a span of two years.

He was also able to woo prominent Karachi businessman Nasser Jaffer to head the board, and later manage the affair of the cash-strapped national flag carrier.

Govt to defend induction of Shujaat Azeem as PM’s aide on aviation

But he has been criticised by aviation officials, especially for his constant interference in affairs of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and PIA.

Earlier this year, CAA Director General Air Marshal (retd) Muhammad Yousaf was unceremoniously removed after he refused to yield to constant demands of Azeem, who wanted to move CAA’s head office to Islamabad and have officers of his liking appointed for key projects.

On the contrary, people close to Azeem say the special assistant is demanding and does not tolerate “laidback” attitude.

PIA unions, including the powerful Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association (PALPA), are particularly against Azeem because of his unyielding behaviour. However, he succeeded to have his way and stop PALPA from getting another pay raise while the airline continues to book losses.

Move to pacify: Azeem invites protesting union leaders for talks

Azeem faced a court martial after he quit Pakistan Air Force (PAF), and went abroad to pursue career as a businessman. He ultimately ended up becoming captain of the private aircraft of Lebanese tycoon and later prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Contrary to reports of his association with PML-N, Shujaat Azeem met Nawaz Sharif after the latter was jailed by President Pervez Musharraf.

As a go between Saudis, Hariri and Musharraf, he was instrumental in release of Nawaz from jail.

He has also been targeted for his stake in the Royal Airport Services (RAS), which provides ground handling service to multiple airlines at Pakistani airports. PIA does not use RAS.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Parvez
    Dec 14, 2015 - 11:59PM

    His dual nationality itself should disqualify him from holding this office. Recommend

  • Saleem
    Dec 15, 2015 - 12:04AM

    It is courts, not criminals, with laid back attitude. Why this man, who was court marshaled and removed from his job for same reason in 2013 was hired again. And why this man was not sentenced then?

    Court must summon the person who hired this criminal to court and ask him to explain why he also not be given sentience as well.Recommend

  • syed & syed
    Dec 15, 2015 - 2:33AM

    This person with O level, court martialed, shunted out of job having dual nationality disqualifies him to take any job in Pakistan.His only qualification is that he is a favorite of Mian Sahiban. Come what he will again be given a lucrative job.PM is not concerned what goes on in Pakistan and what the Courts say, he is busy in foreign trips for vague reasons and have no time to look CAA affairs. Recommend

  • Feedback
    Dec 15, 2015 - 4:02AM

    All pre planned by government. This man was supposed to resign after ruining PIA. He should be held accountable in SC of Pakistan. Recommend

  • Blithe
    Dec 15, 2015 - 4:03AM

    @Saleem:
    How can you call him a criminal??
    A court marshal over entertaining a girl does not mean he is a criminal .

    Imran Khan Niazi has a love child ! Shouldn’t he , according to you , be s bigger criminal .Recommend

  • Mohammed
    Dec 15, 2015 - 5:10AM

    Azeem has done very well in bringing about positive changes to the Pakistan aviation industry.
    Even our secondary airports have seen so much development that I doubt would have ever been under someone else’s tenture. Take for example Multan and Faisalabad. Both these airports used to have once a week operations by PIA and no international routes and today the locals are thanking the PCAA to making them get home easier and quicker. The airports have become more customer friendly and the structures are being rennovated. Recommend

  • Anwar Jamal Khattak
    Apr 15, 2016 - 9:36PM

    No body want to know why and how shujaaat azeem court marshal. He was angry with double standard policy of PAF officials where he was not allowed abroad for his higher education but the son of air chief allowed for the same purpose . He protest against this and finally they court Marshall with reason of Comming late in the office. Recommend

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