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Let's shut down PIA, says Pakistan government

Islamabad, May 19 (IANS) The Pakistan government sought support from lawmakers across party lines to declare the loss-making flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) "bankrupt" and eventually shut it down, the media reported.

Speaking before the Senate Special Committee on the Per­formance of PIA, Prime Minis­ter's Adviser on Aviation Sardar Mehtab Abbasi on Thursday said: "Such a recommendation from a parliamentary committee will help the government take the difficult decision that it is otherwise hesitating to take."

The committee, which met to discuss the status of its recommendations to overhaul PIA, also took up the incidents that had occurred over the past month that had given a bad name to PIA as well as to Pakistan, Dawn online reported.

Abbasi laid three options before the committee: Letting the flag carrier run the way it was, operating in loss; declare it bankrupt and shut it down; or restructure it.

"We are trying to restructure PIA, but it is an extremely difficult task," he said, arguing that PIA lacked discipline, top-quality management, ethical and professional officers and a "sense of ownership".

However, Committee Chairman Mushahidullah Khan from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said the panel was not in favour of shutting down PIA altogether.

"We believe that a few good officers at the top could restore PIA's lost glory," Dawn online quoted Khan as saying.

The committee has also asked the airline for details of actions taken against the "sleeping pilot" on flight PK785 and the captain of PK853 who had invited a Chinese woman into the cockpit.

On Monday, 14 crew members of a PIA flight from Lahore to London were detained for over two hours at the Heathrow Airport over security threats and were later released.

Aviation Secretary Irfan Elahi told the committee that the British government had not officially shared details of items seized from the plane.

--IANS
ksk/vt

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