General

PPP to resist privatisation of PIA and PSM

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has warned the government against the privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), saying that the mysteriously hurried move ahead of the general elections was motivated to make a fast buck at public expense.
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari warned Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to shelve attempts to privatise PIA and PSM or get ready to face resistance from his party, both inside and outside the parliament.
The prime minister approved privatisation plans for PIA and PSM while presiding over a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP). The two organisations, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said, were deliberately damaged — financially and administratively — during the past four and a half years of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) rule.
The common man, as well as experts, was taken aback by the decision of a person who had served the PIA as its chairman before he launched his own private airline, said Mr Bhutto-Zardari.
Likewise, Nawaz Sharif whose family led the cartel of a private steel industry in the country dragged the largest state industrial unit Pakistan Steel to a point of operational death, he regretted.
“Both Prime Minister Abbasi and disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif are most probably conspiring to sell PIA and Pakistan Steel to their hidden partners,” he said, adding that they were selling the national assets on the one hand and purchasing the same on the other.
The PPP chief warned the PML-N government to stop personalisation in the name of privatisation and called upon the masses — especially the trade unions — to join his party’s struggle against the economic terror being imposed on the people of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, co-chairman of the party Asif Ali Zardari in a statement released on Saturday said: “Hurried and thoughtless privatisation of the PIA without recourse to Parliament at this time is a crime against the people that must not be allowed; it will not be.”
He asked the potential buyers to desist from buying the national airline in their own interest warning that they may have to face consequences of being part of a commercial undertaking based on criminal motives.
PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the former president also directed members of the Parliament belonging to the PPP to raise the issue in both the National Assembly and the Senate and expose the mala fide intent behind it.
Mr Zardari was of the view that the loss-making ventures recently undertaken by PIA raised doubts whether these were deliberately designed to increase its liabilities and thereby create justification for its hurried privatisation.
He said that during the PPP government, international oil prices stood at nearly $150 a barrel which reduced to less than $50 in 2015.
Like other airlines, this steep fall in international oil prices should have enabled PIA to reduce its losses but instead the losses increased, he added.