ISLAMABAD -  President Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P) Asif Ali Zardari has warned the government against privatisation of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) saying that the mysteriously hurried move on the eve of general elections was motivated not by turning around the national carrier but by making quick buck at public expense.

In a statement issued here on Saturday, Asif Zardari said, “Hurried and thoughtless privatisation of the PIA without recourse to Parliament at this time is a crime against the people that must not be allowed; it will not be.”

He also warned the potential buyers to desist from buying the national airline in their own interest warning that they may have to face consequences of being part of a commercial undertaking based on criminal motives.

Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the former president also directed members of Parliament belonging to the PPP to raise the issue in both the National Assembly and the Senate and expose the malafide intent behind it.

The former president said that the loss-making ventures recently undertaken by PIA raised doubts whether these were deliberately designed to increase its liabilities and thereby creating justification for its hurried privatisation.

Zardari said that during the PPP government international oil prices stood at nearly 150 dollars a barrel which reduced to less than 50 dollars in 2015. Like other airlines this steep fall in international oil prices should have enabled PIA to reduce its losses but instead the losses increased, he said.

Meanwhile, Asif Zardari on Saturday regretted the remarks he made in interview with a private channel Friday that sought to give the impression of supporting the absconding former SSP Malir Rao Anwar.

Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that Zardari had described his words as mis-spoken and regretted any offence to anyone.

The former president also acknowledged in another TV interview on Saturday that his words about Rao Anwar were indeed mis-spoken, the spokesperson said.

The former president also denounced extra-judicial killings as “abhorrent, criminal and unacceptable” and called for bringing to justice all those involved in it, the spokesperson said.

“Enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings are twins of a deepening curse. It is unthinkable that the Pakistan People’s Party would support it in any form or manner, the spokesperson said. The party’s record in and out of the parliament is a testimony to it.

The former president realises that his remarks made unwittingly in the flow of conversation may have caused anguish and has regretted it.