Shahbaz to share PIA body demands to Prime Minister
Chief Minister ( CM) Shahbaz Sharif has held a meeting with members of Joint Action Committee (JAC) and has vowed to put their demands before Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif. Chairman of the committee, Sohail Baloch while talking to the media after the meeting said that the Punjab Chief Minister heard the members with patience and the party is returning satisfied.
He said that the committee held a three-hour long meeting with Shahbaz Sharif. Dialogue with the Chief Minister was successful as they are returning to Karachi appeased, he added. He said that Sharif acknowledged their right to put forth stance in the issue. Baloch said that ultimately the federal government would negotiate with the Pakistan International Airline's employees. Baloch said that CM Shahbaz has vowed to forward committee's demands to Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif. They have informed the Chief Minister of their reservations over Essential Service Act also, he added.
The chairman quoted Chief Minister saying that the government does not want to lose the national airline as it is a national asset. On the other hand, CM Shahbaz while addressing participants of the meeting said that the government does not want to privatize PIA for no reason, it cannot bear Rs 10 crore loss on daily basis. During the meeting, the Joint Action Committee put forth its demands before the Chief Minister in matter of protests and strike by the employees of Pakistan International Airline over proposed privatization of the company.
The committee demanded the government to postpone privatization of the national airline by a year. It is worth mentioning here that the government had earlier postponed the process by six months in response to protests across the country. The JAC demanded the government today in dialogue with the CM Shahbaz Sharif to shut some routes of the PIA as they allegedly run in loss due to dinky number of customers.
On the other hand, PIA has cut ticket prices for Umrah pilgrims with immediate effect. The pilgrims will now be charged Rs 54,500 from the federal capital while Rs 44,500 from Karachi. Earlier on late Tuesday, the Joint Action Committee had announced to end the strike. Committee's Chairman Sohail Baloch said in a press conference that he would be travelling to Lahore today to meet the Chief Minister of Punjab. He said that the national airline could progress with support of the government and right leadership.
PIA employees were on strike against privatization for the past eight days. The strike added around Rs 2.75 billion to the debts of the national company. Flight operations of PIA remained suspended across the country. Almost all counters in different cities were shut halting all services including booking, cargo and courier. Umrah pilgrims among others whose visas were about to expire were stuck till today. Adding to the misery of the citizens, different private airlines had hiked ticket prices taking advantage of the situation.
According to the government an agreement was reached with private airlines in respect of which PIA's irked customers were to be given alternative tickets. However allegedly, customers with confirmed tickets were not even entertained by private companies despite the agreement, let alone others. Amidst the tussle that went on between PIA's workers and the government, two lives were lost in Karachi. On February 2, two workers of the airline who were rallying towards Jinnah International Airport from company's head office were gunned down. Sindh Police and Rangers were present at the protest site to counter any regrettable incident however, the unidentified attacker successfully fled the crime scene.