ISLAMABAD: PML-N leader and former prime ministerShahid Khaqan Abbasi feels the only solution to PIA’s woes is to privatise it.
“The solution is very simple…just privatise PIA or else it will have the same fate as the Pakistan Steel Mills,” Abbasi said while speaking on private Tv show on Thursday.
Though the Mills have been closed for years, they are running a Rs550 billion deficit and billions are being spent on debt servicing.
The government had been spending Rs700 million monthly to pay the Mills’ employees’ salaries and a total of Rs35 billion has been spent since 2015. In June, the government announced that it is seeking private investment into the Mills.
PIA has been operational, but is Rs137.7 billion in debt. Abbasi was once a pilot. He was the first PM in country’s history to have participated in a Pakistan Air Force mission by flying a F-16 Fighting Falcon and a military helicopter.
“I’ve been a pilot for over 43 years so my sentiments are attached with the pilots and airline amid this fake licence issue,” Abbasi said. He was referring to Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan claiming that PIA has around 242 pilots that obtained their licences through unfair means in the written examinations.
Abbasi believes that if there’s any truth to this, then the Civil Aviation Authority should be questioned, not the airline, because it conducts the exams.
He said the Ministry of Aviation should have handled the issue well by issuing pilots with suspcious degrees show cause notices first then hearing their version of events before making the news public.
“After hearing each pilot, you either let them continue flying or suspend their licence, there’s no third option,” Abbasi remarked.
“[Sarwar Khan] used the term ‘fake or suspicious licence’, however there’s nothing like that. The world now has trust issues with Pakistan. Your licence is either valid or gets cancelled.”