Pakistan Peoples Party all set to oppose PIA privatization

December 08, 2015

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KARACHI: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has rejected the presidential ordinance to privatise Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) by bypassing the parliament, said PPP Senator, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, Senator Saleem Mandviwalla in a statement on Monday. He warned that his political party along with other opposition parties would hold protests at all the airports of the country if PIA was privatised through an ordinance. Senator Mandviwalla was asked why the government had not sought approval from the Senate and the NA for PIA privatisation and instead promulgated an ordinance which was un-constitutional. He said the government had already struck a deal with Etihad Airways for the sale of the PIA. “Their motive behind the ordinance is to sell the PIA to the Sheikhs of Abu Dhabi; this deal has been brokered by Chaudhri Muneer, a relative of PM Nawaz Sharif and Shujaat Azeem, Special Assistant to Prime Minister,” he alleged. Mandviwalla said that Nawaz government always sold national assets through unconstitutional ways, just like PTCL was sold in the past. He demanded to set up a judicial commission for probing the affairs of PIA and a financial audit of the last 10 years, so those responsible would be brought to justice before the privatisation of the national flag carrier. He said the PPP strongly opposed the federal government over privatisation of the country’s biggest airlines due to its significant losses during the last few years. He said the PPP, in collaboration with the relevant political, labour, and civil society organisations, would lead a protest drive against the ill-advised move of the government to sell national assets to the private sector. “We won’t let anyone sell these public entities behind the door,” he said. Senator Mandviwalla demanded of the Supreme Court to take suo moto notice of the privatisation plan and give a stay order against the privatisation of PIA. He said the government did not consider the airline employees’ reservations against privatising the national airline. He regretted that no legislation was done for the rights of the labour. “Any law which doesn’t have the representative of labourers is unacceptable, all labour unions should unite on a single platform to resist government intention to privatise the PIA,” he urged. Meanwhile various PIA employee unions opposed airlines privatise as they see it a threat to jobs. They throng offices of the airlines in Karachi and Islamabad for several hours to protest the government's plan. Senior Vice President Zameer Chandio of Peoples Unity of PIA Employees (CBA) said they “will not let the PIA privatized at any cost.” “An emergency meeting of CBA and all other associations summoned to challenge privatization ordinance,” Chandio said. Capt. Amir Hashmi President, Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association (Palpa) said the airlines pilots’ body is keeping a close eye on the recent developments. “We are yet to decide our plan of action. Management has also invited us to Islamabad for briefing, but we have not yet decided that either to attend or not,” Hashmi said. “If the privatization is transparent as it is done worldwide, we are for it, but if there is any murky deal which we reserve our right to protest.” A spokesman of PIA, in response to a protest demonstration of the employees against the presidential ordinance, said the reservations of the employees would be conveyed to the government and that efforts were already being made in this connection. “The Pakistan International Airlines management has requested the employees to make sure that flight operations are not disrupted so that the passengers of the airline do not face any difficulties,” the statement said. “The CBA had given the assurance that PIA flight operations would not be disturbed as a result of the protests.”

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