The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif on Tues­day an­nounced that Pak­istan In­ter­na­tional Air­lines (PIA) em­ploy­ees work­ing dur­ing the strike will be given spe­cial re­wards for their ser­vice, while those who par­tic­i­pated in the strike will be pun­ished and can be sent to jail for one year.

The prime min­is­ter ac­cused PIA work­ers of politi­cis­ing the na­tional flag car­rier's pri­vati­sa­tion is­sue by re­sort­ing to strikes, which he said were cost­ing the air­line a loss of Rs100 mil­lion per day. In a move to stall the strike, Nawaz had al­ready en­forced the Es­sen­tial Ser­vices (Main­te­nance) Act 1952 for six months, bar­ring protest­ing mem­bers of the PIA from par­tic­i­pat­ing in any union ac­tiv­ity.

"Any per­son found guilty of an of­fence un­der this Act shall be pun­ish­able with im­pris­on­ment for a term which may ex­tend to one year and shall also be li­able to a fine," the leg­is­la­tion reads. Ear­lier in the day, two pro­test­ers died af­ter sus­tain­ing bul­let wounds when law en­forcers tried to dis­perse protest­ing PIA em­ploy­ees at Karachi Air­port's Jin­nah Ter­mi­nal. As news of the deaths of two PIA em­ploy­ees spread, the na­tional flag car­rier's flight op­er­a­tions across the coun­try be­gan shut­ting down in sol­i­dar­ity with the pro­test­ers, of­fi­cials said.

Yes­ter­day, In­for­ma­tion Min­is­ter Per­vaiz Rashid had also made clear that strict ac­tion will be taken against protest­ing em­ploy­ees.

"Let me make clear that those who con­tinue the strike will be treated as en­e­mies of PIA and Pak­istan and they will end up los­ing their jobs," he had stressed. Em­ploy­ees of the na­tional car­rier had threat­ened to go on strike from Tues­day be­cause of what they called the govern­ment's re­fusal to ac­cept their main de­mand of call­ing off the or­gan­i­sa­tion's pri­vati­sa­tion plan.

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