The upper house of parliament was informed on Friday that the financially stricken national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was incurring losses worth Rs87 million on a daily basis.
The Senate was informed that a staggering Rs0.5 million a month was being paid to 214 employees – with over a dozen of them bagging more than one million each in salary and benefits.
While responding to a question, Sheikh Aftab, Minister of State for Parliamentary affairs said that the airline suffered Rs33 billion losses during 2012 – while losses amounting to Rs31 billion were reported during the first nine months of financial year 2013.
Defending the government’s report card, Aftab claimed that the PML-N inherited the carrier when it was bleeding cash – with losses worth Rs110 million a day which were reduced to Rs87 million a day. The minister explained that the government has injected Rs16 billion out of which Rs11.75 billion has been released so far as equity in PIA.
Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan informed the House that Pakistan has not yet given Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) and Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India.
Dastgir said both countries have made commitments and negotiations are under way on the issue. He‚ however‚ said that market access has been agreed between the two countries on reciprocal basis.
To another question‚ the minister said during the meeting of commerce ministers in New Delhi last month both sides also agreed to enhance operational hours at Wahga-Attari land route.
Former interior minister Rehman Mailk said Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), Malik said the on-going peace talks with the Taliban were in violation of the Constitution unless the group is removed from the list of proscribed organisations.
The PPP lawmaker said that the Taliban have used the negotiations merely as a ruse to buy time to regroup in the past and peace agreements with militant groups signed in 2004, 2005 and 2008 could not hold.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2014.