LAHORE: Expressing concern over national security, the Lahore High Court chief justice on Tuesday stayed process of outsourcing management control of the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore.

Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah directed the federal government to explain as to how national security would be ensured after handing over the airport’s control to a foreign organisation.

The chief justice was hearing a set of petitions challenging outsourcing of Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore airports.

However, the chief justice during a previous hearing had made it clear that the high court had the jurisdiction to take up the case of Lahore airport only.

Employees of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), former federal minister of PPP Dr Mubashir Hassan and others filed the petitions.

Representing the petitioners, Lahore High Court Bar Association Secretary Amir Saeed Rawn argued that the Civil Aviation Act did not allow outsourcing or privatisation of the airports for being sensitive premises.

He said the airports were also used for emergency landing of passengers and air force planes during war situation.

He said outsourcing the airports would amount to risk national security, seeking court’s restraining orders for the government.

During the hearing, lawyers of the government and CAA told the court that the outsourcing process had already been deferred.

However, Dr Hassan accused the government’s lawyers of misleading the court and said the privatisation process was still underway. He said the process had been kept secret to avoid court’s action.

The chief justice also expressed his concern for national security if administrative control of the airports was given to foreign companies.

He stayed the outsourcing process and sought detailed reports from federal government, cabinet division secretary and the CAA within four weeks.

He directed the respondents to convince the court as to how national security would be protected after the outsourcing of airports. The respondents were also directed to produce complete record of the privatisation process on next hearing.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2017

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