ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has warned Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to shelve attempts to privatise Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) or get ready to face stiff resistance by tooth and nail from his party both inside and outside the Parliament.
While presiding over a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP), Abbasi approved the privatisation plan for both PIA and Pakistan Steel Mills, which have been deliberately devastated, financially and administratively, during last four and half years' rule of PML-N.
The PPP chairperson said that common people, as well as experts, have been taken aback by the decision of a man who himself was the chairperson of PIA before he launched his own profit-making private airline, whose profit shoot up rapidly. Likewise, Nawaz Sharif whose family leads the cartel of private steel industry in the country dragged the largest state industrial unit, Pakistan Steel Mills, to a point of operational death. “Both Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif are conspiring to sell PIA and Pakistan Steel Mills most probably to their hidden partners,” adding that they are selling national assets with one hand and purchasing by other.
Bilawal warned the PML-N government to stop personalisation in the name of privatisation and called upon the public, especially the trade unions to join PPP's struggle against the economic terror being imposed on the people of Pakistan.
In the meanwhile, former president Asif Ali Zardari has warned the government against the privatisation of PIA.
“Hurried and thoughtless privatisation of PIA without recourse to Parliament at this time is a crime against the people that must not be allowed; it will not be”, the former president said in a statement issued on Saturday.
Zardari also warned 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 Parliament belonging to the PPP to raise the issue in both the National Assembly and the Senate and expose the malafide intention behind it.
Zardari said 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 added 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 said.