ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Wednesday asked how a person who joined Pakistan International Airline (PIA) on deputation could be appointed its chief executive officer (CEO).

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed conducted hearing of Air Marshal Arshad Mehmmod Malik appeal against the Sindh High Court order restraining him from performing functions as CEO of PIA.

During the hearing, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah asked how a person, who has joined PIA on deputation, could be appointed its CEO. Salman Akram Raja, representing PIA Board of Directors said there are many judgments of Supreme Court on the issue.

He informed that Arshad Malik would retire from PAF in 2022, adding till that time he would not receive perks and privileges from the PAF.

The bench directed Salman Raja to assist the court regarding the matter.

Earlier, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmad said the reports of PIA and the government regarding the appointment of Arshad Mehmood Malik have been examined and it appears that one person has drafted both the reports. “There is only cut and paste.” Air Marshal is highly praised in the reports.

If the Air Marshal is found not fit for the post then he will have to go: CJP

Naeem Bukhari, representing the incumbent CEO, said that on the last hearing the court had observed that many Vice-Marshals and Commodores were brought from PAF, while the fact is that not many, but a few officers came with Air Marshal in PIA. “Whether I (Mr Arshad) am fit for the post or not this has to be decided by the court,” said Naeem.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said it was interim arrangement but the Air Marshal continually occupying the post. Naeem told that Arshad Malik was appointed in view of the advertisement.

Justice Ijaz questioned whether the post was advertised internationally. He said that in the Supreme Court judgment steps have been mentioned that how the CEO is being appointed.

Justice Sajjad stated that persons had applied for the post of CEO PIA, but the authorities said that one does not have the experience, while the other does not have relevant qualification, thus selected Air Marshal.

The Chief Justice said if the Air Marshal is found not to be fit for the post then he would have to go. Justice Ijaz noted that national carrier had made progress during the time of Air Marshal Asghar Khan and Air Marshal Noor Khan, adding the foreigner CEO took PIA plane to Germany.

Salman Akram Raja said NAB is investigating the matter. The chief justice said the PIA should have filed a criminal case in the German’s court. He questioned how the PIA plane was taken out of the country and no step was taken to bring it back.

Later, the bench adjourned hearing till February 20 in this matter for further proceedings.

On the last hearing the apex court had allowed Pakistan International Airline (PIA) Board to run the affairs of national flag carrier and also the functions of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Chairman.

The bench had turned down Air Marshal Arshad Malik’s prayer to suspend the Sindh High Court (SHC) order restraining him from performing duties. The bench summoned High Court record regarding the matter.

The SHC on 23-12-2019 had restrained Air Marshal Arshad Malik from carrying out any function as the CEO PIA till January 22.

Air Marshal Arshad Malik was a nominated Director PIA since October 17, 2018. He was elected as acting CEO on October 26, 2018 and was appointed regular CEO w.e.f. April 26, 2019 as per PSC Guidelines 2015.

Before joining PIA, Air Marshal Malik was Vice Chief of the Air Staff (VCAS), of Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

In his petition, Malik stated that negotiation for export of planes were conducted by him with Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Egypt, Argentine, Nigeria with orders obtained from them later.

Arshad Malik also stated that he was posted as Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Personnel) for a year, dealing with human resources issues, both of civilians and serving Air Force employees. This assignment included HR Planning, Career Profession Development of the entire Human Resources of the PAF, all over Pakistan.

Malik told that till deputed to PIA he was the Vice Chief of PAF looking after the PAF budget, flight safety, training institutes and media affairs.

Safdar Anjum, had challenged Arshad Malik’s appointment in the SHC. It is his stance that the Air Marshal Malik was a senior serving officer of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and his appointment as the PIA chief was made in utter disregard of law laid down by the apex court in its Aug 3, 2018 judgement against the appointment of the then CEO.