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February 23, 2021

More than a dozen sportsmen leaving PIA under VSS

Sports

February 23, 2021

KARACHI: Around a dozen sportsmen, including former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram and great goalkeeper Olympian Shahid Ali Khan, are leaving PIA under its Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS), ‘The News’ has learnt.

The PIA is going to lay off around 3,500 workers to cut down its costs. The sportsmen that are opting to leave PIA include cricketers, footballers and hockey players. Under the scheme, employees under age of 58 are eligible to surrender their jobs before superannuation.

The Economic Coordination Committee has approved a fund of Rs12 billion for the scheme. Reports say the airline, which has over 14,000 employees currently, only requires 7,000 workers to run its operations.

Sources said that other players are former fast bowlers Azeem Hafeez, Aizaz Cheema, former Pakistan hockey captain Muhammad Irfan, former national footballer and manager PIA team Zafar Iqbal, first class cricketer Shahryar Ghani, Agha Sabir, hockey player Tariq Mir, former first class cricketer Najaf Shah and a few others.

The head of PIA sports department Test cricketer Shoaib Muhammad did not respond to the calls made by this reporter.

Sources said that overall PIA’s sports department condition is not good. PIA’s cricket and hockey teams used to be its identity in all domestic sports competitions. The airline also employed many squash players.

The PIA’s cricket, hockey and squash teams recorded many successes in domestic sports competitions. “No other team can come close to PIA as far as the number of national championship victories is concerned,” a PIA sports official said.

During last couple of years due to poor financial situation in PIA, sports teams were not able to participate in the national level championships and competitions. PIA’s hockey team which has won a record number of national championships and produced a lot of Olympians and World Cup-playing players did not participate in the national championship last year.

And its cricket team had been relegated to Grade II before the PCB abolished departmental cricket. Sources mentioned that the teams were not disbanded but they were not participating in domestic competitions and there was no hiring of new players. An official said when PIA would be out of financial crisis, the teams of various disciplines would participate in the domestic competitions.