ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution urging the government to take immediate steps to improve the national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
Though the resolution had been moved by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, it was passed with the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a number of cabinet members absent from the House during voting.
After the House passed the resolution, Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi referred the matter to relevant standing committee for further discussion.
While discussing the national flag carrier, the members of the assembly urged the government to restore various cancelled domestic and international PIA routes to facilitate the people.
MNA Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan said the government should restore PIA’s route for Balochistan.
“If the government can’t restore the PIA’s Balochistan route, then it should allow the parliamentarians to commute on the PIA tickets with Shaheen and Indus airlines,” Khan said who was elected from Qilla Abdulla in Balochistan.
Awami National Party (ANP) member Ghulam Ahmad Bilour said that it was unfortunate that PIA had suspended its flights from Peshawar to Karachi. “People first have to come to Islamabad to take a flight to Karachi,” Bilour said.
The House also called upon the government to ensure that recruitment in the airline should be made purely on merit and not on the political grounds.
MNA Sahibzada Tariqullah said the national flag carrier was once considered one of the best airlines in the world, but now it lay in shambles.
“I remember once Emirates took two PIA aircrafts on lease but now we are far behind Emirates,” Tariqullah lamented.
MQM MNA Nabeel Gabol suggested the government purge PIA of all political recruits as the organisation was becoming a burden on the national exchequer.
“If the government can’t run the PIA in a transparent manner, then it should privatise it,” Gabol said.
The parliamentary affairs minister added that PIA was profitable organisation in 1990 but later it was destroyed due to mismanagement and corruption, and now it was incurring a loss of Rs48 billion per annum.
He said that the PM had granted financial package of Rs1 billion to reduce old liabilities and debt burden of the beleaguered airline while attempting to minimise corruption.
Gas load management
Earlier, Parliamentary Secretary for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Shehzadi Umerzadi told the House that no gas load management is being carried out in domestic and commercial sectors.
While replying to a call to attention notice moved by Muhammad Akram Ansari in the House, Umerzadi said that the country is facing a shortage of 2,000 MMcf/d. Elaborating on it, he said that current demand stood at 6,000 MMcf/d while production stood at 4,000 MMcf/d. However, he claimed that there was no drop in pressure for domestic consumers.
Ansari and others had sought to highlight closure and low pressure of gas for domestic consumers of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL).
Umerzadi said major brunt of gas load management is being borne by the industry in Punjab.
Minister for Ports and Shipping Kamran Michael informed the House that employment is being given in Karachi Port Trust (KPT) as per the provincial quotas on merit.
Michael pointed out the nepotism being practiced in the past, saying that employment had been provided to the children of KPT employees who had died during services, adding that this facility had been extended to those employees who served from from grade one to fifteen.
Michael added that a probe is being carried out into the past illegal recruitments of KPT.
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