ISLAMABAD  - Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has quietly called off disciplinary proceedings against one of its former managing directors, despite earlier serving him notices for allegedly violating the airliner’s rules by working for a foreign airline while being employed at the PIA.

“Captain Muhammad Aijaz Haroon, P-35207 ex-managing director PIA, be called back to resume his flying duties immediately. However, he would be required to withdraw all his court cases filed by him against PIAC before resumption of flying,” was one of the decision the PIA Board of Directors (BoD) took in its 351st meeting held on October 31 and November 1, 2013, documents available with The Nation reveal.

“As admittedly he been working with another airline, therefore the intervening period from the date of his such admission of joining the airline shall be treated as extraordinary leave without pay,” the said decision reads. The BoD has rescinded its decision taken in the 346th meeting held on January 21 this year, which had recommended a decisive action against Haroon.

Accordingly, the documents reveal, the PIA Human Resource Management (HRM) has intimated Haroon about the PIA BoD’s decision and has asked him to join the duty.

The former MD PIA had to resign from his post in February 2011 after the PIA employees staged a protest against his reported plan to sell PIA routes to Turkish Airlines. After stepping down, Haroon had joined Turkish Airlines without resigning from the PIA, allegedly without the latter’s approval.

The PIA Spokesman Tajwar Mashhood, when contacted, said the matter was sub judice as it was pending with Sindh High Court. “Any decision on Aijaz Haroon would be taken in accordance with the SHC directions, “ Mashhood said, adding that he needed to consult the officials concerned at PIA’s Legal Services before commenting on the matter any further.

PIA Director Human Resource (HR) Aijaz Mazhar did not respond to this scribe’s calls at his cell phone when contacted to seek his version on the issue.

As per the documents, shortly after Haroon had resigned as MD PIA, the then Director HR PIA Captain Salim Ahmad had suggested him on behalf of the then MD PIA Captain Nadeem Yousafzai to take early retirement from PIA, citing ‘hue and cry’ created by PALPA (Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association) against Haroon’s flying with state-run airline.

In his email to Yousafzai on August 4, 2011, Haroon wrote, “As conveyed to me by Director HR Captain Salim Ahmad then, that PALPA is creating a lot of hue and cry on my flying in PIA therefore it will be in the larger interest of all that I opt for early retirement and he even sent me a draft letter that. I was to sign and send back.

After getting confirmation from your Special Assistant Bonny Bornshin that what Dir HR has conveyed to me is with your consent I reluctantly sent in my application for early retirement. It is very clearly mentioned in the application that the remaining service will be paid to me including encashment of my accumulated leave of almost a year.

Subsequently my early retirement case was prepared and after going thru the normal channels was recommended by your kind self for approval.

Sir as a pilot, you are aware that we have to be actively flying with some commercial carrier to keep our license valid. PlA is not making me fly due to PALPA pressure since Feb 2011. You are aware that with what great difficulty you got my license renewed in April thru foreign pilots in Dubai. Therefore for the sake of validity of my license, I had no other option bat to find a job with another commercial carrier or else my license would lapse and that would be the end of my carrier Throughout this period from time to time I have kept you and director HR fully in the picture thru different channels.

Sir, since my case went thru all channels, I was told that it has been cleared by the legal branch of PIA also. However there is some delay in approval of my settlement due to red tape. Sir now that I have another job and in principal my retirement has been agreed to, I request you to kindly send me my release from PIA and as far as the financial settlement is concerned it can subsequently be done.”

The PIA management refused to accept this explanation and on October 27, 2011, decided to proceed against Haroon in the light of Rule 44 of PIA Service and Discipline (S&D) Regulations 1985, which provides that every employee shall devote himself exclusively to the service of the corporation (PIA) and shall not engage himself in any other service, business or profession or undertake part-time or full time work for a private or public body or person, or accept any pay, compensation, remuneration or fee without prior sanction of the competent authority. The disciplinary action was recommended by Asim Rauf, Manager, Legal Services.

On the other hand, Aijaz Haroon moved SHC and acquired stay against any action from PIA to be taken against him, on Dec 12, 2011. On Dec 22, the then PIA Director Flight Operations (DFO) Captain Naveed Ahmed Aziz, in letter number DFO/MISC/19/M-06/2011, asked former MD PIA to relinquish his job at the foreign airliner “otherwise, law will take its own course.”

In the subsequent show cause notice served on Haroon and dated April 30, 2012, the DFO said, “You are required to show cause as to why the disciplinary proceedings under PIAC S&D Regulations 1985 should not be initiated against you. However in compliance with the order of the honourable high court dated 13.12.2011, no final order with regard to your termination, if so decided by the competent authority, shall be passed, until the above order is recalled or modified by the court.”

On January 21, 2013, the PIA BoD recommended a decisive action against Haroon but on May 14, the Board’s Human Resource and Remuneration Committee (BHR&RC) in its 28th meeting recommended ‘final settlement’ for Aijaz Haroon by means of calling him back to resume flying at the state-run airline, adjusting his outstanding dues and treating his tenure at the foreign airline as ‘extraordinary leave without pay.’ The PIA BoD in the 351st meeting, unanimously approved this decision.