ISLAMABAD - Essential Services Maintenance Act 1952 for Pakistan International Airlines has been challenged in the Supreme Court on Saturday as PIA employees strike continues at the airports of major cities.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on February 1 had approved the Act for PIA for a period of six months. According to it, any employee taking part in the strike will lose job.

Petitioner Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi had prayed that the Prime Minister and the Secretary Ministry of Defence be ordered to withdraw the Essential Services Act and the order to ban PIA employees’ union immediately and submit its notification in the apex court. He said the bill to make PIA company should be abolished.

The PM, Finance Minister and Minister for Privatisation Commission be directed not to privatise the national flag carrier till the order of this court. He also asked the court to constitute a committee comprising retired judges of Supreme Court and High Court to run the affairs of the PIA.

He further asked the court to order the prime minister not to accept the resignation of PIA chairman Nasir Jaffar.

The authorities be directed to pay Rs5 million to the heirs of deceased and Rs0.1 million to the persons injured during the clashes with police and Rangers. The injured employees should be treated at Agha Khan Hospital, Karachi. The apex court further asked to order the government to pay the salaries and dues to the PIA employees.

He said the statements of the Prime Minister that some forces are behind the PIA crisis and that the protesting employees would have to face the consequences and that the culture of demonstration and strikes would not be tolerated and those not performing duties would be sacked and sent to jail for one year has aggravated the situation. He said due to the statements of the PM the Karachi airport became a battle ground on February 2.

Director General Sindh Rangers should be directed to register cases for issuing threats and killing of two employees.