BY AMRAIZ KHAN & NADER BUNERI

LAHORE/PESHAWAR: No PIA plane could take off from the Lahore airport yesterday after 12-30pm, said People’s Unity President Sajid Gujjar while PALPA also asked its members not to join duty till any further directive from its executive committee.

Sajid Gujjar said from 7am to 12:30pm only 12 flights could proceed, but after that till 4pm no PIA flight could depart from the Lahore airport. Among the affected flights were from Lahore to Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Karachi and Islamabad. Several passengers travelling by Jeddah flights were Umrah pilgrims who had to suffer a lot due to their visa validity and hotel accommodations in Saudi Arabia.

The PALPA Executive Committee has asked its members (pilots) not to join duty under such hostile circumstances. They said in a circular, “The executive committee is left with no choice but to instruct its members not to proceed to any airport of Pakistan till our next directive”.

The committee further said, “It strongly condemns the death of our three colleagues. The killing of our colleagues is the result of direct firing by the authorities on a peaceful protest. This incident was witnessed by hundreds of PIA employees, including several pilots”.

This aggressive and unjust attitude of the authorities has created an unsafe environment, spreading resentment amongst the employees at all the airports.

PALPA members are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with all the airline employees against the privatisation of the national flag carrier, he maintained.

Society of Aircraft Engineers of Pakistan (SAEP) also condemned the incident in which Aircraft Engineer Saleem Akbar and Communication Manager Inayat Raza were shot dead in point-blank firing at the Karachi airport.

SAEP also condemned the injuries caused by the brutal firing of police and Rangers to the PIA employees protesting against its privatisation.

Former SAEP President Shaukat Jamshed held the government solely responsible for brutal killing of three peaceful PIA employees. He also condemned the arrest of SAEP President Syed Zakir Farooq, Hidayat Ullah Khan and Dr Imran. He demanded immediate release of the leaders and withdrawal of the privatisation process.

3 FLIGHTS CANCELLED IN PESHAWAR

Like other parts of the country, Pakistan International Airline employees boycotted their duties in PIA booking office Peshawar against PIA’s proposed privatization and cancelled total three flights out of scheduled five flights on Tuesday.

Employees at PIA office were on strike for the last eight consecutive days however they completely boycotted their duties on Tuesday after baton charge and firing on PIA employees in Karachi.

Talking to media persons the employees said that they will continue their strike until government did not take action against the responsible persons who opened firing on PIA employees and withdraw its decision of privatization of PIA.

The employees also boycotted their duties at Bacha Khan International Airport where the employees staged sit-in to protest against government.

The employees chanted slogans against Pervez Rashid and Pakistan Muslim League (N) government. Heavy contingent of police and army was deployed around Bacha Khan International Airport to thwart any untoward incident; police were also deployed at PIA booking officer where employees had boycotted their duties.

The union members strongly condemned the police firing and torture on their colleagues in Karachi and demanded judicial enquiry of the incident.

They warned that their strike will be continued until government withdraws its decision regarding proposed privatization of the PIA.

Meanwhile flight operation remained suspended across the country and 18 flights were cancelled at Karachi Airport on Tuesday and three flights out five were cancelled at Peshawar Bacha Khan International Airport. The electricity remained suspended in PIA office across the province and no one was allowed to book a ticket.