PIA defends sacking of fake degree holders

Updated December 04, 2019

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Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Tuesday defended its decision of terminating services of its staff charged with possessing fake degrees setting aside lawmakers’ directions to show leniency. — APP/File
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Tuesday defended its decision of terminating services of its staff charged with possessing fake degrees setting aside lawmakers’ directions to show leniency. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Tuesday defended its decision of terminating services of its staff charged with possessing fake degrees setting aside lawmakers’ directions to show leniency.

“The decision of PIA management is in line with Supreme Court orders,” PIA’s Chief Human Resource Officer Air Cdr Amer Altaf told the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation.

At 15 meetings spreading over a year, the committee has been asking PIA to reconsider its ‘harsh’ decision and hand down less severe punishments to the staff which submitted fake degrees at the time of their inductions.

The committee had met to follow up on its directions and was disappointed with the PIA management’s ‘stubbornness’.

More than 700 PIA staff members had possibly submitted fake academic documents during their inductions. Some 467 staff members were dismissed. As many as 201 former employees had obtained stay orders from courts against their terminations. Among those terminated for possessing fake degrees were 16 pilots.

Decision is in line with Supreme Court orders, official tells Senate body

The committee, however, expressed displeasure with the management for not sharing a list of its officers and actions taken against those involved in the recruitment of employees on fake documentations. Chairman of the committee Senator Mushahidullah Khan of the PML-N has been demanding stern action against such officers.

“They should also be dealt with strictly,” he said.

Harassment complaints

No action has been taken against PIA officials for allegedly harassing female staff.

While the committee believed that its management has been insensitive towards the terminated staff, it is protecting those accused of harassing female coworkers.

“These air force officers are bringing a bad name to a prestigious institution,” the chairman observed.

Members were surprised that no inquiry had been initiated against officers who had been named repeatedly by the female staff for allegedly harassing them.

PIA maintained that an internal inquiry was underway and these cases were also awaiting a decision in the court of the ombudsperson.

The committee demanded a report of the cases.

PIA hotels

The Sindh government has declined to return Sambara Hotel in Larkana to PIA.

In 1974, following directions from the then prime minister, the Sindh government had allocated five acres to the PIA to build a hotel.

However, in 1990, the PIA gifted the fully-furnished hotel to the Sindh government.

“Later, PIA realised that it had lost a prime property and wanted it back,” Secretary Aviation Nasir Jami told the committee.

Updating the committee on the current status of the hotel, PIA said its management was still exchanging letters with the Sindh government, which now wants to retain it as a tourist attraction.

Mr Jami said the cabinet committee on privatisation was in the process of deciding the fate of Roosevelt Hotel in New York.

The government is likely to consider a joint venture to revive the estimated $1 billion PIA property, the official said. The cabinet’s decision will be conveyed to the committee when it meets next.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2019