NA sessions: PIA must fly high, says MPs

Demand improvement in its services and restoration of closed routes

Azam Khan December 03, 2014


Lawmakers in the National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday passed a resolution unanimously, urging the government to take immediate steps to improve the services of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), once considered one of the world’s best.

The resolution was moved by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed in the House for passage. The House passed the resolution unanimously and later Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi referred the matter to relevant standing committee for further discussion.

While discussing the national flag carrier in the absence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a number of cabinet members, lawmakers urged the government to restore various cancelled domestic and international flights of the PIA to facilitate the people. They also called upon the government to ensure that recruitment in the PIA is made purely on merit, and not on the political grounds.

Speaking on the issue, MNA Abdul Kahar Khan said the government should restore the PIA route for Balochistan as people of the province were facing tremendous problems due to suspension of the airline service.

“If the government can’t restore PIA’s Balochistan route, then it should allow the parliamentarians to commute the PIA tickets with Shaheen and Indus airlines,” he said.

Awami National Party (ANP) leader Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour said that it is unfortunate that the PIA has also suspended its flights from Peshawar to Karachi. “People first have to come to Islamabad to take Karachi flight,” he mentioned.

Sahibzada Tariqullah said the national flag carrier was once considered one of the best airlines in the world but now it is in a shambles.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Nabeel Gabol said after hard time is over the prime minister and his cabinet colleagues have started ignoring the House.

He suggested that the government purge PIA of political appointees as the airline 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,” he said.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Sheikh Aftab Ahmed said PIA was a profitable organisation in 1990 but later it was destroyed by mismanagement and corruption. He said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government is taking measures to improve PIA’s performance.

He said that the prime minister had approved a financial package to reduce the old liabilities and debt burden of PIA. The minister said that annual loss of the PIA has reached Rs48 billion but the government is trying to reduce it gradually.

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.

She noted although there is a shortfall of 2,000 MMcf/d per day of gas, there is no pressure drop in domestic sector since 26th of last month. She said major brunt of gas load management is being borne by the industry in Punjab.

The Minister for Ports and Shipping (KPT) Kamran Michael informed the House that employment is being given in Karachi Port Trust according to provincial quota on merit.

He stated employments are being provided to the son or daughter of the employee who expires during service from grade 1 to 15, adding that Inquiry is being carried out into the illegal recruitment in KPT in the past.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2014.


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