The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ordered to place the name of retired captain Shujaat Azeem, former special assistant to prime minister on aviation, on the Exit Control List (ECL) after viewing a presentation on massive losses to the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing a suo motu case concerning the proposed privatisation of the national carrier.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar issued notices to authorities against eight illegal appointments in the airline. All the parties were ordered to submit their reply within the next 15 days. The chief justice also directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to look into the matter.
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The chief justice, however, praised the incumbent Adviser to Prime Minister on Aviation Sardar Mehtab Abbasi who was also present in the court. Chief Justice Nisar vowed "not to spare those who inflicted heavy losses upon the national flag carrier".
The chief justice recalled that a new organisation of aviation was established in 2013 and Azeem was appointed as an adviser on aviation in the same year.
Azeem in the past was embroiled in a controversy before the court for being court-martialled and a dual national (Canadian and Pakistani).
Economist Farrukh Saleem, who was assisting the court in the case and had been asked on the last hearing to submit a report on the losses, showed a presentation, explaining the losses incurred by PIA between 2008 to 2017.
According to the presentation, the PIA has suffered a total loss of Rs360 billion since 2008. Among the reasons for the losses, Saleem mentioned PIA spending more than its revenue, being under political influence, packages and association policy.
The airline had owed Rs412bn during the period under review. The airline paid Rs9bn in 2016 for the lease of aeroplanes. A total of 45 planes had been taken on lease during the last 10 years. According to the report, the airline had procured several spare parts of some planes in 1990 which haven't been used as yet. The airline suffered a loss of Rs6.67bn for grounding a leased aeroplane.
The national flag carrier suffered a loss of Rs5bn for distributing 287,000 tickets in 2013. The PIA showed medical expenditures of Rs3bn in 2016.
The chief justice in his remarks said he knows who was bestowed with catering contracts and who made a housing society [on the airline's money]. He directed all former managing directors of the airline to submit their written replies in the next 15 days on the presentation.