MABAD - No move to lay off hundreds of political appointees from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) stays in the pipeline despite the fact that defence minister had hinted at the downsizing in national flag carrier some days back.
In a written reply tabled before the Parliaments Upper House on September 14, 2011, in response to Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadis query, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar had stated, Large number of HR (Human Resource) is also one of PIAs problems that needs rightsizing. No reduction of manpower will take place in operational areas of pilots, aircraft engineers, technicians and specialised professionals. Reduction in non-operational areas will be done through normal attrition while outsourced over and above HRB will either be adjusted against the approved HRB or eliminated. Stagnation due to similar type of duties will be done away with job rotation policies.
The defence minister had also conceded in his written reply against a question posed by Senator Dr Ismail Buledi that 12 appointments were made in PIA in violation of the prescribed rules during the tenure of former Managing Director Aijaz Haroon. There was a total of 12 individuals from Pay Group-II to Pay Group-X who were inducted in PIAC during the tenure of former Managing Director, PIAC (M Aijaz Haroon) by dispensing the requirement of advertisement, qualification, height and upper age relaxation in violation of the government rules in vogue. However, these appointments were authenticated by the PIAC Board.
Six of the aforesaid 12 appointees were inducted on permanent basis while the remaining as many were hired on contractual basis for 2-3 years between 2009-2010. The 'beneficiaries also include senior HR and marketing officials.
According to Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, PIA made 2,171 appointments during the last three years from 2008 to July 2011 including 1,854 regular and 317 contractual. As many as 165 PIA officers draw lucrative salaries exceeding 500,000 rupees. The total strength of PIA employees, according to the defence minister, stands at 8801.
When TheNation approached Ministry of Defence for its official version, it was learnt that the ministry was managing its affairs without a spokesperson as Rear Admiral Shah Sohail Masood was reportedly no longer the official spokesperson at MoD. The Secretary Defence Lieutenant General (r) Syed Athar Ali refused to come into contact for comments while the defence ministers office asked this newspaper to contact the Public Relations Officer (PRO) for the MoDs official stance on the subject. The MoD PRO Shahab Hamid is in the US on an official training and is scheduled to be back next month, and the newly appointed acting PRO Sohail Aftab says he is not in knowledge of the issue. The PIA Spokesperson Tajwar Mashood, when approached, said that he was not authorised to comment on defence ministers statement. The Defence minister is the Chairman of PIA Board of Directors, I cannot comment on his statement, he said.
He, however, confirmed that no move was on the cards to rightsize the excess manpower in PIA. The inductions and rightsizing require the due approval of our HR Department. Presentations are made before the Board of Directors and related official procedure is adopted. The HR Committee holds periodical meetings in this regard but as of now, no such move regarding the rightsizing is in the pipeline, he said. According to sources, a considerable number of the aforementioned 2171 appointments forms politically motivated inductions that were made in non-operational areas either due to political pressures, personal affiliations or against 'fiscal favours.
Highly technical and operational posts like those of Aircraft Engineer and Deputy Chief Engineer are vacant while the ones that are unnecessary and non-operational are flooded with manpower. Of the 727 aircraft engineer posts, 727 are occupied and 30 remain vacant while of the 70 deputy chief engineer posts, 52 posts are occupied and the remaining 18 stay vacant.