PPP co-chairman calls the move commercial undertaking based on ‘criminal motives’
Party’s MPs to challenge Cabinet Committee decision in NA, Senate
Bilawal tells PM to drop the decision or face ‘strong resistance’
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday said that the “thoughtless privatisation of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) without recourse to parliament at the time of elections is a crime against the people that must be resisted”.
Earlier on Thursday, presiding over a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP), Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had approved the privatisation plan for both PIA and Pakistan Steel Mills.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Asif Zardari warned the government against the privatisation of the PIA besides warning the potential buyers to desist from buying the national airline in their own interest. He said that whoever buys the PIA may have to face consequences of being part of a “commercial undertaking based on criminal motives”.
Calling the move dubious, he said that the ‘mysteriously’ hurried move on the eve of general elections was motivated not by turning around the national carrier but by “making quick buck at the public expense”.
On Zardari’s behalf, party Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the former president also directed the PPP parliamentarians to raise the issue in both the National Assembly and the Senate and expose the mala fide intent behind it.
Zardari said that the loss-making ventures recently undertaken by the PIA raised doubts whether these were deliberately designed to increase its liabilities and thereby create justification for its hurried privatisation.
Zardari said that during the PPP government international oil prices stood at nearly 150 dollars a barrel which reduced to less than 50 dollars in 2015. Like other airlines this steep fall in international oil prices should have enabled the PIA to reduce its losses but instead the losses increased, he said.
BILAWAL WARNS OF RESISTANCE AGAINST THE MOVE: Meanwhile, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also urged Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to shelve attempts to privatise the airline and Pakistan Steel Mills, or ‘be ready to face strong resistance.’
Criticising Abbasi, the PPP chairman said that commoners and experts were taken aback by the decision of a man who led the PIA before he launched his own profit-making private airline. Likewise, he added, Nawaz Sharif has dragged the largest state industrial unit to a point of operational death.
“Both PM Abbasi and the disqualified prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, are conspiring to sell the PIA and PSM most probably to their undisclosed aides,” Bilawal said. “They are selling national assets on one hand and purchasing on the other.”
The PPP chief also directed his party to raise voice against, what he called, fraudulent privatisation of the new organisations in parliament and other available forums.