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Secretary sought free air tickets after ban

Updated August 25, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Aug 24: Defence Secretary retired Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik tried to get free international and domestic air tickets for himself and other members of his family through four “back-dated” letters a day after a reconstituted PIA board decided last month to scrap all perks and privileges of the present and past chairmen and members, according to documents.

The first letter received by the PIA secretary sought authority for issuance of free tickets for Mr Malik as ex-chairman of the airline, his spouse, son and daughter for the Islamabad-London/ Manchester-New York-Lahore-Islamabad route.

The facility for travelling from Islamabad to Paris and back was sought with 95pc discount for himself and the three family members in the second letter.

Authority for issuance of tickets from Islamabad to Lahore and back on 95pc discount for the four members of the family was sought through a third letter.

The fourth letter sought the authority for issuance of free air tickets for Islamabad to Karachi and back for the wife, son and daughter.

The decision to do away with the practice of issuance of free air tickets to the sitting and former chairmen and members of the PIA board was taken on July 11 at the first meeting of the reconstituted board.

All the four letters were received in the office of the PIA secretary on July 12 and were recorded as per the standard procedure under diary numbers 5,416 to 5,419.

When contacted, defence secretary’s personal staff officer Col Sher Ahmad Khan, whose signature the four letters carried, said the tickets were never issued.

He conceded that the letters had been written, but said the decision of the board was not in the knowledge of the secretariat and, therefore, the tickets had been claimed as a matter of right.

He added that the decision had yet to be officially conveyed to the defence secretariat.

Meanwhile, although the month of July 2013 is typed on the top of all the letters, the date ‘10’ has been added by hand.

Analysts believe that the free tickets dolled out by the management of the airline are among the factors responsible for the continuous decline of the national carrier.

As many as 300,170 free air tickets were issued in 2011, 287,412 in 2012 and 82,978 in the first quarter of the current year by the PIA management.