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January 23, 2020

PIA affairs


January 23, 2020

Stories about mismanagement in PIA are not unusual. We have been hearing and reading about such accounts for years. The apex court has now upheld a verdict delivered by the Sindh High Court preventing the CEO of the company, Air Marshal (r) Arshad Mahmood Malik, from continuing to serve as head of the organization. The Board of Governors has been asked to run affairs and arrange for a suitable new appointment. The verdict comes in response to a petition which stated that Arshad Malik lacked the educational qualifications or experience required of the chief executive of the national carrier and that rules have been broken in the process of his appointment. The petition also pointed out that PIA fares have increased by nearly a hundred percent since Malik assumed charge.

Matters have become further complicated with allegations that a contract worth Rs700 million has been granted to update entertainment systems aboard the eight 777 Boeing aircraft owned by PIA. According to the story, which appeared in this publication, the contract had been given to a company set up only a few months before tenders were floated and which had filed no tax returns or had its accounts audited. The owner of this company is said to be a close associate of the CEO, and the Board of Directors of this firm includes the wife and the daughter of the owner even though the daughter is still a student.

It is problems like these that have held PIA back for years in the past. A company which was the pride of Pakistan until the 1970s has declined to a situation where it has been making huge losses and is crippled by over employment, wrongful appointment, lack of merit and corruption which is believed in some cases to have included the purchase of substandard aircraft. The maintenance of aircraft and the quality of services have also been brought under question again and again. We can only hope that the present government with its promise of a new Pakistan which is free of corruption and nepotism can go about the task of rebuilding PIA and turning it once more into an organization that can serve passengers and bring in profits for the national exchequer. The latest case in court indicates that things are far from well. A close look needs to be taken at the management of PIA, the grant of controversial contracts and the staffing of the airline so that it can prove to run efficiently and without the mismanagement that has plagued it for years.

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