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July 4, 2020

Conflict of interest

Newspost

 
July 4, 2020

It goes to the credit of Late A M Nur Khan and the then federal government, which gave him a free hand to revamp PIA, making it profitable. Under his watch PIA, which already owned hotels, decided to acquire Hotel Roosevelt in 1978, in partnership with a Saudi Sheikh, on a long-term 20-year lease with an option to purchase at $36.5 million. It is an unfortunate fact that Nur Khan resigned within months of the Zia junta takeover because of political interference in PIA and Hotel Roosevelt, which after a legal battle, the airline managed to acquire in 2000 and became sole owner.

PIA and the expensive hotels it owned became a liability with every successive civil and military government, unable to resist the temptation to abuse them. Why should the present government have gone public on the issue of pilot's licence, at a time when PIA was faced with a tragic crash, while simultaneously thinking of the sale of Hotel Roosevelt at a time when the market is down. Both Hotel Roosevelt and Scribe are expensive assets worth approximately $2 billion, which are exclusively owned by the taxpayers of Pakistan and if they are to be sold, it should be done ensuring those involved have no conflicts of interest, nor carry any baggage mired in controversies.

Malik Tariq Ali

Lahore