Mian Abrar & Shah Nawaz Mohal
While the national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) keeps sinking in a constant deficit, the political elites are adding to its woes. In another scandal reflecting the rot, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Secretary Information Senator Mushahidullah Khan abused his position as Chairman of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)’s Performance Committee of the Senate by staying at Hotel Marriott, London, from March 21-28, 2017, during his recent visit to UK as PIA’s crew member, documents available with Pakistan Today have revealed.
According to the invoice from London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale, Senator Mushahidullah Khan checked into room number 300 on March 21, 2017, and stayed there for more than a week before checking out on March 28, 2017. Interestingly, the PIA picked up the tab for his stay which was clubbed together with airline and cockpit crew of PIA.
Besides being the secretary information of the ruling party, he also chairs the Senate Special Committee on Performance of PIA, which has in recent days issued critical recommendations to revamp crisis-stricken national flag carrier.
However, a source in the PIA told Pakistan Today that the PIA management had nothing to do with the hotel arrangement of Mushahidullah; rather, it was PIA UK Operations In-charge Sajidullah Khan, brother of Mushahidullah, who, in fact, arranged his stay in the hotel.
“Actually this was all done by Sajidullah Khan who abused his position as In-charge PIA UK to return the favours to Mushahidullah, who had got him employed in the PIA. The PIA management has nothing to do with it,” the source said.
It is ironic, however, that each parliamentarian is provided with air travel vouchers of Rs300,000 per year which could be used for domestic or foreign flights through PIA. However, no amount is paid for accommodation purpose and perhaps this was the reason behind Mushahidullah staying at the hotel as PIA staff member.
He was appointed as Federal Minister for Environmental Affairs on January 5, 2015; however, he had to step down after his controversial interview against the then DG-ISI Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam on August 15, 2015.
Rida Khan, the daughter of Senator Mushahidullah, has also been accommodated on a reserved seat for women. Media reports also claim that his two brothers have been given unprecedented elevations in the PIA on a political basis.
PIA, a company already in the eye of the storm for its poor performance and constant losses, is hardly in a position to afford to pick up the tabs of touring parliamentarians. Recently, a sub-committee on the performance of PIA submitted its report where it recommended that political influence is causing harm to the organisation.
In a late night response, Sajidullah confirmed the news as correct, saying the reservations for his brother was made by PIA, but the payment was paid by him through his debit card. “PIA makes reservations for VIP guests, lawmakers and dignitaries who make a request to PIA, but they make payments out of their own pockets,” according to a short statement, received on the message-sharing mobile application.