The Supreme Court on Sunday temporarily barred the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from replacing the Pakistan flag on the tails of its airplanes with an image of the Markhor — the country's national animal.

While hearing a suo motu case regarding the airline's performance, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar ordered PIA to halt the revamping of its aircraft until a report on the matter is submitted in the court.

"We have found out that you are planning to replace our national flag [on the tails of PIA aircraft] with the picture of an animal," the chief justice said to the managing director of PIA, who was present in the court.

"Which animal are you planning to place on the tails of the planes?" the CJP asked, and was told that a picture of a Markhor, PIA's new mascot and Pakistan's national animal, will be placed on the national flag-carrier's tail.

The PIA MD was ordered by the chief justice to present a report regarding the award of contract for pasting stickers of the Markhor on the planes.

"Do you know the cost required for [placing the new mascot on the tail of] each plane?" Justice Nisar asked the MD, questioning if the national flag-carrier is so profitable that it can splash out funds on the stickers.

"Rs2.7 million are required to place the sticker on the tail of each plane," the official replied.

Unconvinced, the CJP responded that the rebranding of each plane will actually cost Rs3.4m.

Jusitce Nisar also took the PIA MD to task about the delay in his flight from Karachi to Islamabad on Saturday.

"Do you know what time I reached Islamabad yesterday? Why was my flight two-and-a-half hours late?" the CJP asked. He was told that the flight was delayed due to a technical difficulty.

"I will also take a look at your performance," the CJP warned the PIA MD.

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