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Monday March 04, 2024

ECP bars caretaker govt from privatising PIA

The ECP directed the caretaker government to refrain from taking any further step

By Our Correspondent
February 05, 2024
Pakistan International Airline (PIA) planes are positioned on the tarmac at an airport in Islamabad. — AFP/File
Pakistan International Airline (PIA) planes are positioned on the tarmac at an airport in Islamabad. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) barred the government from privatisation of the state-owned PIA, citing Section 230 of the Elections Act, which defines the role or mandate of a caretaker government. ECP Secretary Dr Asif Hussain wrote to the Secretary Cabinet Division Kamran Ali Afzal and sought provision of all related documents, concerning the privatisation of the national airline.

The ECP directed the caretaker government to refrain from taking any further step, including signing of an agreement till a decision is made by the commission under Section 230.

According to Section 230, which concerns the functions of caretaker government (1) A caretaker government shall—(a) perform its functions to attend to day-to-day matters necessary to run the affairs of the government; “(c) restrict itself to activities that are routine, non-controversial, urgent, in the public interest, and reversible by the future government elected after the elections; and “(2) The caretaker government shall not—(a) take major policy decisions except on urgent matters; (b) make any decision or a policy that may have an effect on or pre-empt the exercise of authority by the future elected government”.

A copy of the letter, available with The News, reads, “Kindly refer your letter No.2/1-2024-PS (CS) dated January 27, 2024, on the above subject. The matter raised in your letter was placed before the Election Commission, which after due examination of the issue, in the light of Section 230 of the Elections Act, 2017, and clause 5(b) of the Privatisation Commission Ordinance 2000, has directed that you be requested to provide all relevant documents prepared for approval of the cabinet, containing comprehensive privatisation programme in relation to privatisation of PIA, to this commission for review”.

The ECP further directed that the caretaker government should refrain from taking any further step including signing of an agreement till a decision is made by the commission under Section 230 ibid. The letter calls upon the secretary Cabinet Division to take necessary action as per direction of the Election Commission i.e. provide the related documents, privatisation programme in relation to privatisation of PIA to this commission for review.