ISLAMABAD/LAHORE - National Accountability Bureau on Thursday summoned Chairman Pakistan International Airlines Muhammad Irfan Elahi to record his statement in the ongoing inquiry against the PIA CEO and others regarding appointment and validity of drawing salary and perks and privileges by the top boss of the national flag carrier. 

On July 22, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had directed the NAB to probe the PIA CEO Musharraf Rasool Cyan’s appointment and salary during hearing of a suo motu notice about difficulties faced by passengers at Skardu Airport following a special PIA ‘air safari’ that caused a 4-hour delay of a Skardu-Islamabad flight.

Following the top court’s direction, the NAB started investigation into the matter and directed the PIACL chairman to come with all relevant record related to the case.

The NAB summon, copy of which is available with The Nation, reads, “Whereas the competent authority has taken cognisance of the offence under National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999. Whereas the inquiry regarding the appointment, salary and other benefits of the PIA CEO by the airline board has revealed that you are in possession of information whatsoever, which relates to commission of the said offence. In view, thereof, you are called upon to appear on August 17 at NAB Rawalpindi or Islamabad office before the deputy director to record your statement along with relevant record of the PIA Board meeting.” It further read that failing to comply with the notice might entail penal consequences as per the NAO 1999.

Earlier, the NAB had recorded statement of the PIA CEO Mushrraf Rasool Cyan on August 15 in the same case.

The NAB had summoned Rasool on August 9, stating that the inquiry regarding the appointment, salary and other benefits of CEO PIA had revealed that the PIA CEO was in possession of information/evidence whatsoever, which relates to commission of the said offence. “You are hereby called upon to appear on August 15 before the investigation officer at NAB Rawalpindi or Islamabad office to record your plea along with documents related to your profile qualification/experience and appointment as the PIA CEO,” the NAB notice further read.

Sources in the Bureau told The Nation that the NAB investigation team grilled the CEO PIA for around 2 hours and he could not satisfy the team during the investigation.

PIA board members will appear before NAB today to explain the controversial appointment of airline’s CEO in violation of SECP rules. It is worth mentioning here that Supreme Court of Pakistan had directed the NAB to probe into appointment of CEO PIA. The Bureau had started inquiry into the matter and on Friday (today) summoned members board of directors who were basically responsible for this appointment. Sources privy to the development said that four federal secretaries, also members of the board of directors have laid heads together to respond the queries of NAB joint investigation team members. An aviation expert seeking anonymity said that SECP Rules were not followed in the appointment of Musharraf Rasool. He said that Musharraf was awarded contract for three years by the board members whereas it was advertised for two years in newspapers and its approval from the authorities concerned was also for two years but agreement was made for three years. In advertisement 25 years of aviation experience was required for the candidate but he was appointed without any aviation experience. The CEO has experience of 10 years but it is not relevant to the aviation industry nor is experience of working against any senior position. Sources in the airline claimed that it was mentioned in the board meeting minutes Musharraf is a mediocre candidate.

PIA CEO did not appear before airline board of directors for interview and was appointed only on the recommendations of the Human Resource (HR) and Nomination Committee. As per Rules, firstly HR&N committee recommends the names of three candidates which are later approved by board members and then panel of three candidates is sent to prime minister for final approval of a single candidate. There were three names in the panel for the appointment of CEO including Ijaz Haroon (former MD PIA), Junaid Yunis (former MD PIA) and Musharraf Rasool with no aviation experience. But name of Musharraf was finalised for the slot of CEO due to unknown reasons. Sources claimed that former adviser to prime minister on aviation Sardar Mehtab Abbasi used his influence to appoint Musharraf Cyan as CEO PIA since Cyan had served him as PSO when former was Chief Minister KP. AGP has also raised objection on the appointment of Musharraf Rasool in the shape of Audit Para. Services of those PIA board members who had not endorsed Cyan appointment were terminated like Faryal Jooma and Wing Commander Raheel. Faryal had raised objection on the appointment of cyan while Raheel pointed out tempering in CEO documents like his date of birth, CNIC and matriculation certificate.