After over three years of absence, the controversial Capt Aijaz Haroon, the former MD of PIA has been facilitated in rejoining PIA once again on December 20. For over 5 years PML-N and other political parties, while in opposition, launched a vocal campaign in national print and electronic media and on the floor of parliament against mismanagement, financial corruption and abuse of merit inflicted upon PIA, by cronies of Asif Zardari.

Transparency International also provided proofs of specific incidences involving abuse of power by a number of officials. PIA’s Balance sheet also give authenticity to these accusations, showing a dreadful rise in losses during their tenures, with almost half fleet grounded, irregularities in procurement or awarding GSA/GHA, mishandled Hajj/Umrah operation, and recruiting more employees in violation of merit, even with fake degrees. This added to the woes of national airline, declared as world’s worst airline in terms of employee to aircraft ratio in entire aviation industry. I was among the 27 regular permanent employees of PIA (still waiting for all dues to be paid even after 5 years), whose services were arbitrarily terminated, without any valid reasons assigned, in violation of PIA Rules, invoking master-servant clause, through Mandatory Early Retirement, on whims of Aijaz Haroon in July 2008, a vindictive practice unheard of by a PPP government in the past.

PIA passenger services, flight punctuality, reliability and cancellations touched an all time low during these five years while revenues declined with cost of operations escalating, forcing PIA’s External Auditors to declare this organization technically insolvent. When management decided to sell PIA’s sole remaining assets, namely routes and slots, PIA employees rose up in revolt demanding sacking of Aijaz Haroon. The government was forced to remove him, while employees refused to have him in their ranks. He was forced to leave PIA and join a Turkish airline on contract for over a year, till such time his contract was terminated by them.

Is this part of politics of reconciliation with Asif Zardari, or is it an acceptance that accusations of massive irregularities and mismanagement against Aijaz Haroon were unfounded, and PPP was not responsible for the mess that PIA is in today? Are we to see other heads of companies that have been showing loss!

MALIK TARIQ ALI,

Lahore, December 25.