ISLAMABAD - The country’s major opposition parties strongly disapproving the PML-N government’s move to privatize three public sector entities (PSEs) including PIA after the Privatization Commission’s nod are set to challenge it in court, besides resisting in parliament.

The opposition parties mainly PPP are set to lock horns with the government on its approval for giving go-ahead in the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and other forums.

The opposition factions, after PML-N government’s formal indication to privatise 31 PSEs, had expressed annoyance and decided to strongly resist the idea to ‘save’ thousands of poor workers.

The government on (October 3) had finally decided to initiate the process of privatization of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and other public sector entities, as committed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“We will definitely challenge this cruel decision in court. This will not prove beneficial for the country at any cost,” said leader of opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah while talking to The Nation on Wednesday.

Shah said he had also written a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif about disadvantages of privatization of PSEs of the country. “Pakistan is not same like America and Europe where privatization proves favorable for the country and people,” Shah said, adding that institutions are assets of country so it should not be treated in this way.

The Opposition Leader, who is also chairman Public Accounts Committee (PAC), hinted to take up in PAC. “It is a bit different subject to discuss in PAC but paras of these entities will discuss in length if comes at this forum,” he added.

It would leave a very bad effect on labour class and they would strongly oppose it in and outside the parliament, he added.

Having same stance, another PPP senior leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said they are strongly against ‘outright sale’ of public entities in such a way. “Labour class should be given its due right,” he added.

Giving his strong reaction, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) central leader Arif Alvi said they would strongly resist the government decision in the National Assembly, as it should be deliberated in the house. 

“It is not understandable that privatization step is being taken when PIA is running into losses,” he said adding that there is need to deliberate the issue.

Whereas, MQM conditionally supporting the government’s move said there should be a proper alternate plan for thousands of workers, who are expected to be laid off.

“It is welcoming move but labour class should not be affected from it,” said MQM central leader Waseem Akhtar while talking to this scribe.

It has been largely reported the government has decided to privatise 31 public sector entities during the current financial year 2013-14 including banking, petroleum, insurance and energy sector companies, and other key entities like PIA, PSM and Utilities Stores Corporation.

Pakistan had agreed with IMF to privatise PSEs for $6.7 billion loan programme under the extended funds facility (EFF). The country was supposed to develop and approve a reform strategy for at least 30 PSEs out of the 65 shortlisted firms for privatisation, according to the IMF documents.

It is relevant here some of economic experts viewed that several key state-owned institutions like PIA, Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills, Wapda and other institutions are a major burden on Pakistan’s economy. These loss-making entities are presently bleeding national kitty to the tune of Rs 400 billion per annum.