ISLAMABAD, Aug 29: The Pakistan Muslim League-N filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Wednesday alleging rampant corruption and mismanagement in Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), adversely affecting the country’s credibility and national pride.
Moved separately by PML-N’s Secretary General Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Marvi Memon, the common petition requested the court to order an investigation into the affairs of PIA to identify corruption, mismanagement, inefficiencies and lack competent staff to run the national flag carrier.
They said flight delays, mismanagement and corruption had shaken the confidence of passengers and undermined their safety.
The federal government through defence and law ministries, managing director and chairman of PIA and the Civil Aviation Authority have been made respondents.
The petitioners cited a television interview of Ahmed Mukhtar in which he had conceded that PIA was in such a shambles that there was not even an iota of hope left to run it safely and in an efficient manner and said that corruption was so pervasive that it could not be cleansed.
The Saudi aviation authorities, they said, had warned PIA by putting its operations under rigorous observation since delays of its flights had also caused inefficiencies at Jeddah Airport.
“The collapse of PIA is due to the fact that there is no governance and because there is a palpable malice to ensure financial feasibility of a private airline owned by ‘corrupt rulers’ by deliberately running down and debilitating the national flag carrier,” the petitioners claimed.
They regretted that the financial loss caused by PIA to the national exchequer ran in billions of rupees, but despite highlighting the issue in parliament no meaningful response had ever come.
The situation, they said, had led to the shifting of hub of air traffic from Pakistan to Dubai when ironically PIA had trained Emirates staff in its halcyon days when its efficiency was at its pinnacle.
They said there was a VVIP culture in PIA and preferential treatment was given to the privileged elite class -- top bureaucrats, military officers, government officials and parliamentarians -- through separate lounges and fast-track treatment although they paid lower fares.
“Internationally such treatment is only given to those who have paid higher fares,” the petitioners said.
They alleged that PIA had never employed staff on merit, rather it was overstaffed for political gains. “Sometimes the government appoints a person as managing director without realising that he lacks relevant experience in the field.”
The petitioners said the state of affairs in PIA threatened safe journey which violated Article 9 of the Constitution. Besides, they added, delays of flights and mismanagement were against the dignity of a person and national pride and violation of Article 14.
The senseless inconveniences restricted free movement, thus violating Article 15 of the Constitution, they said.