AIR Marshal Arshad Malik
AIR Marshal Arshad Malik

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ignored a request to overturn the Dec 23, 2019 Sindh High Court order of restraining Air Marshal Arshad Malik, chief executive officer of the Pakistan International Airlines, from carrying out any function as CEO of the national flag carrier.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed shifted the responsibility of running the airline to its board of directors which was directed to take over the functions of the CEO/chairman.

The directives came on an appeal moved by Air Marshal Malik against the high court order.

On a petition filed by Safdar Anjum, a concerned citizen, the SHC had restrained Air Marshal Malik from carrying out any function as CEO of the airline.

The petitioner before the high court had contended that Air Marshal Malik was a senior serving officer of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and his appointment as PIA chief was made in utter disregard of the law laid down by the apex court in its Aug 3, 2018 judgement against the appointment of the then CEO.

Apex court resents appointment of 10 other PAF officers in national flag carrier on deputation

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court expressed its dismay over the appointment of 10 officers of the PAF while noting that the CEO, who himself had joined the PIA on deputation, had brought in four air vice marshals, two air commodores, three wing commanders and one flight lieutenant, that too on deputation, in the airline.

The court was apparently not happy over the increase of PIA fares by 100 per cent during the term of the CEO and noted that another case pertaining to the appointment of the CEO was already pending before the Supreme Court.

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, a member of the bench, observed that the court would like to see the advertisement for the appointment of the PIA CEO to consider whether the advertisement was designed with Air Marshal Malik in mind as he did not have the pre-requisite qualification, education or the expertise required for the job.

This came as a response to Attorney General Anwar Mansoor’s assertions about “regular” appointment of the CEO by following proper procedures, including an advertisement in the media.

Justice Shah also cited a news item that a contract worth Rs700 million was awarded to an air commodore who had registered his company a few months ago.

“You are running the affairs of the national flag carrier like those of a family entity,” the court told Air Marshal Malik, wondering how he could manage the PIA when he had earlier miserably failed to run Shaheen Airways.

The Supreme Court also summoned the record of the case currently being heard by the SHC and adjourned the hearing for two weeks.

Air Marshal Arshad Malik was nominated director of the PIA on Oct 17, 2018 and later elected acting CEO on Oct 26 that year. Finally, he was appointed regular CEO on April 26, 2019. Before joining PIA, he was the vice chief of the air staff of the PAF.

In his appeal, in a bid to prove his credentials for the office of PIA CEO, Air Marshal Malik argued that negotiations for export of planes were conducted by him with Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Egypt, Argentina and Nigeria and orders obtained from them later.

He said that he had also worked as PAF’s deputy chief of air staff (personnel) for a year, dealing with human resources issues. This assignment included HR planning and career development of PAF staff all over Pakistan.

The appeal contended that before his deputation to the PIA, Air Marshal Malik was the vice chief of the PAF looking after its budget, flight safety, training institutes and media affairs.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2020