PIA crisis ends with MD’s resignation

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KARACHI: The ongoing impasse between the PIA administration and employees finally came to an end after four days of violent protests, with the national flag carrier’s Managing Director (MD) Aijaz Haroon’s resignation on Friday.
With the announcement that the MD had resigned, there were scenes of jubilation at the Karachi airport as PIA employees, who were brutally baton-charged and beaten up by the law enforcement agencies earlier in the day, celebrated their success. The Defence Ministry announced later in the night that Captain Nadeem Yousafzai would take over as the new PIA MD. Yousafzai is a classmate of President Asif Zardari and is serving as DG of Civil Aviation Authority since September 2010. Interestingly, Aijaz haroon has been appointed the CAA DG in his place.
At a press conference in Islamabad, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar and members of the PIA’s Joint Action Committee (JAC) announced that the demands of the national flag carrier’s employees had been accepted. Malik said had the employees opted for dialogue earlier, there would have been no need for protests. “The problem could have been resolved earlier,” he added. Mukhtar said the Defence Ministry had accepted Haroon’s resignation. JAC President Sohail Baloch congratulated the PIA employees on their victory and requested them to resume routine activities. Earlier in the day, chaos was witnessed at the Karachi airport as PIA employees scuffled with the law enforcement agencies. Police baton-charged the protesters and a pro-MD group attacked them with iron rods. Many protesters were injured and admitted to different hospitals of the city. Around 150 protesters had to take refuge in a small room next to the departure lounge to save themselves from police brutality. They came out after negotiating with the PIA management and staged a sit-in outside the departure lounge. Two protesters suffered cardiac arrest in the congested room. As the protesters resumed the protest, police forced them out of the airport. There were no female police officers to handle women protesters, who were dragged out of the airport by policemen. The employees then gathered outside a fast food restaurant at the entrance of the airport and started moving towards the departure lounge again. This time, the police were unable to stop them. During this scuffle, 18 protesters were arrested and sent to the Airport police. They were later released.