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Sindh High court stops PIA CEO from performing duties

PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik

Pakistan International Airline CEO Air marshal Arshad Malik is restrained by The Sindh High Court from carrying out any function as the chief executive officer of Pakistan International Airlines till Jan 22 on a petition challenging his appointment. A former PIA employee Safdar Anjum, who is notorious for filing such lawsuits has submitted that he was filing the petition in the public interest. Safdar is also general secretary of one of the associations of PIA senior staff/employee and asked the court to declare the appointment illegal and unconstitutional.

The bench in its order said that the contentions raised by the petitioner’s lawyer merited consideration, particularly the apparent titanic gulf between the CEO’s education, qualification and experience and the job requirement. It is important to note that Safdar also sought a restraining order against the incumbent CEO on the ground that he was making huge financial decisions and might encumber valuable assets of the PIA that may result in the selling of these assets at throwaway prices.

A court issued notices to respondents as well as the deputy attorney general for Jan 22. The court also said that the PIA chief, chief human resource officer and the airline’s board of directors, through its chairman/CEO, were restrained from carrying out any function as well as encumbering or disposing of assets of the national flag carrier valued over Rs10 million.

The lawyer for the petitioner argued before the bench that as evident from his job application, the main respondent was holding a basic BSc degree and seemed to have acquired qualifications in war studies.

He said clearly he lacked any qualifications, experience in the commercial airline industry or operating a commercial fleet under the civil aviation rules and international treaties.

Referring to a previous judgement of the apex court, the petitioner’s lawyer submitted that under similar circumstances, the Supreme Court had removed the then CEO of PIA while holding that “until and unless strict compliance with the provisions of the statute and rules governing appointment to these senior positions were adhered to in letter and spirit, such appointment will always be subject to challenge on the ground of arbitrariness and non-compliance with the law and settled principles”.

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