Rawalpindi - A large number of PIA employees staged a sit-in in front of the Benazir Bhutto airport yesterday against the killing of their two colleagues during a protest against privatisation of the national flag carrier in Karachi.

The protest march and sit-in was presided jointly by Peoples Unity of PIA Employees Union President Ramzan Laghari, General Secretary Suhail Bukhtiyar and General Secretary Air League of Employees Union (CBA) Zaigham Sajjad Kiyani while participated by most of the employees of PIA.

Many prominent politicians kept visiting the protestors to express their solidarity with the PIA workers. They included Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah, Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Siraj ul Haq, Awami Muslim League President Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Vice-Chairman PTI Shah Mehmood Qureshi, PPP former federal minister Qamaruz Zaman Kaira and Senator Farhat Ullah Babar.

According to details, the employees of PIA continued their protest against privatization of the airline and killing of two workers in Karachi.

A large number of protesting PIA workers gathered on Airport Road at 11:00am and started marching towards the Benazir Bhutto Islamabad International Airport (BBIA). They were chanting slogans against the government and in favour of their demands.

Well-equipped commandoes of ASF and police closed down the entry gate of BBIIAP when the protesting PIA workers reached the main entry gate to go inside the premises to register their protest. 

Addressing the protesting PIA workers, Syed Khursheed Shah said that PM Mian Nawaz Sharif was against the privatisation of the PIA during the tenure of PPP. He said that the government was unhappy with the opposition parties for supporting the protesting PIA workers. He said that the PML-N also protested against the proposed privatization of the PIA in 2012 outside Parliament House. “I am proud to be a politician and will continue supporting the protesting workers,” he said.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, speaking on the occasion, said that a judicial inquiry is needed to be launched to investigate who killed two PIA workers in Karachi on February 2. He said that blood of the deceased workers would not go waste.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmed blasted the PML-N government saying no body would buy the planes of PIA blotted with blood of two workers. He said that the PML-N was killing innocent workers without any reason.

Senator Farhat Ullah Babar stated that PPP was against the privatization of PPP. He said that the PIA employees were protesting for getting their basic rights while the PM had hurled threats at the workers.

Siraj-ul-Haq was of the view that PIA was symbol of respect for Pakistan and it should not be privatized. “The JI will support the PIA workers in their protests,” he said.

The other speakers demanded judicial inquiry into the murders of two employees.

On the other hand, protest outside the airport and high security alert inside the airport created problems for passengers and led to cancellation of many domestic and international flights.

Seeking anonymity, an official of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) informed The Nation that a total of 54 flights including 22 international flights got delayed at the BBIIAP. He said that the passengers faced a lot of problems outside and inside the airport.

Meanwhile, PIA Joint Action Committee announced to continue their protest today (Thursday).