PIA Chairman Ahmed Saeed meets General Musharraf to pressurize
Chief Being Blackmailed by Ousted Chairman's Appointees
M T Butt and M A Siddiqui
May 29: Transparency International, the globally respected NGO
fighting corruption, has confirmed, in writing, big time purchase
frauds in Pakistan’s national airline, PIA, under the ousted
Chairman Choudhry Ahmed Saeed.
who was asked to resign by the Prime Minister on April 16, 2005
has, however, launched a concerted campaign, using his friends
surrounding General Pervez Musharraf, to undermine the authority
of his successor, Tariq Kirmani, ex-chief of Pakistan State Oil.
A grim power struggle seems to be going on.
have taken over the reigns of a gigantic public sector company
which has not very good perception on its procurement,”
Secretary General of the Transparency International in Pakistan
(TIP), Syed Adil Gilani, wrote to the new PIA Chairman in a letter
on May 6, 2005. Click to read letter
International Pakistan in September 2004 had timely warned Mr
Ahmed Saeed on the violation of Public Procurement Rules 2004
in PIA tendering, but PIA continued non-transparent procurement,”
the letter said, urging the new Chairman to sign a Memorandum
of Understanding with TIP on “Integrity Pact” and
warning was contained in a letter TIP sent to Chairman Ahmed Saeed
on September 24, 2004 which in detail stated how PIA was violating
the Government Rules in procurement. It specifically referred
to a Pre qualification Notice for Consultants/Consulting Firms
for RCC Steel Structures, published in Daily Dawn of
Karachi on Sept 24. TIP acted on the same day as the PIA Notice
was published in Dawn, indicating the seriousness with
which it viewed the corruption in PIA. Click
to Read TIP Letter to Ahmed Saeed Page1 | Page2
correspondence between TIP and PIA was quietly passed on to the
South Asia Tribune by sources close to the new Chairman
in what seemed to be a part of the on-going power struggle between
the ousted man and the newly appointed Prime Minister’s
sources also revealed the seriousness of the power struggle saying
Choudhry Ahmed Saeed was trying hard to ensure that all his key
appointees, including the ex-Army Colonel posted on the all-sensitive
position of Special Assistant to the Chairman, remain in their
places and guard against any attempt to expose Saeed’s misdeeds.
Tariq Kirmani has not been able to move even a single key official
of Saeed’s tenure although he has been in charge of PIA
for almost six weeks, a long period for any new comer to get adjusted
and start making his first moves to get a grip on the administration.
two most important cronies Ahmed Saeed has left behind in PIA
are Colonel Mahmood Ahmed, a former ISI officer who was Saeed’s
Special Assistant and has been retained by Kirmani, at least so
far, in the same position and
Colonel Ahsan Siddiqui, Director of Airport Services, who was
recently accused by a PIA air hostess of sexual harassment in
the Supreme Court of Pakistan where she had taken her case of
illegal termination of service. Saeed had ignored the charges
against Col. Ahsan.
part of his larger cover-up operation, Saeed had eased out the
two top officials of his Administration, both Deputy Managing
Directors, weeks before his own sacking.
campaign to keep a lid on his own deeds, through his trusted cronies
in the Kirmani Administration has succeeded so far. As part of
the campaign Saeed’s friends in the President’s House
arranged a meeting of the ousted Chairman with General Pervez
Musharraf and a lot of publicity was given to the meeting, including
release of photographs, so that Kirmani could be pressurized not
to dig into the mess Saeed had left, specially in finances, purchases
and deals which could haunt Kirmani if he did not put the blame
where it was due.
start as the PIA Chief has not been very impressive and he appears
to have been blackmailed by Saeed’s men into keeping a low
profile and going slow.
close to the new Chairman revealed to the South Asia Tribune
that both these Colonels, Ahsan and Mahmood, have now started
publicly claiming, while they are a little typsy in the evening,
that they had secured their positions solidly and Kirmani could
not touch them, even if he wanted to.
to one such conversation, Mahmood told his friends he had collected
a lot of material through his ISI sources on Kirmani. This material
deals with how Kirmani was trying to induct his friends on top
PIA positions. “I will not allow him to induct any of his
trusted cronies,” this former ISI colonel bragged before
his friends recently.
he was referring to were two recent advertisements published in
major newspapers for posts of Director, Human Resources and General
Manager, Brand --- a position new to an airline though in an oil
company which Kirmani ran before coming to PIA, brand was very
Mahmood has been telling his friends that Kirmani had already
selected the people he wanted to induct on these top positions
and the advertisements in newspapers were just an eyewash and
a formality to shut up watchdog organizations like the Transparency
International or the inquisitive media.
has selected Zaheer Baig, his close friend, for the post of Director,
Human Resources while for GM Brand, a lady named Marina has been
chosen,” Colonel Mahmood has been claiming in his evening
sessions with Saeed’s men.
to Mahmood, Kirmani neither had PIA Board’s approval for
these top posts nor he had followed the procedure because applications
were invited directly by the Chairman’s office and were
processed there, in violation of PIA rules.
Mahmood and Colonel Ahsan have been claiming that Kirmani was
trying to outsource the PIA Flight Kitchen and Technical Ground
Support (TGS) Services to companies of his friends and these were
millions of dollars worth of contracts which would be closely
scrutinized by Transparency International, if they were awarded
in a non-transparent manner.
to Mahmood, Kirmani had decided to hand over TGS to a Dubai-based
businessman, Saleem Mandviwala, who also handled a Saudi contract
for PIA recently. The Flight Kitchen, again a multi-million dollar
facility owned by PIA at Karachi and Islamabad, was being handed
over to the Deewan Group, owned by close friends of Kirmani.
allegations being made almost publicly by Colonels Mahmood and
Ahsan have yet to be proved but they are telling everyone that
if Kirmani tried to touch them, they would expose the real deals
behind these expected decisions by Kirmani.
say these threats tantamount to blackmailing the new Chairman,
but so far they are working.
close to Kirmani say Colonel Mahmood was on a very weak wicket
himself as in his own case PIA gave misleading and wrong information
to the Parliament by stating that Mahmood was a graduate (a Bachelor
of Arts) while in fact he just had intermediate level education.
Click to See Recruitment Data provided
is a test case for Kirmani as he has to prove that under his Administration
wrong information about his own Special Assistant was not passed
on to the National Assembly,” sources close to the Chairman
said. “If Kirmani fails to nab Mahmood on this, he would
be held accountable by the National Assembly committees now closely
monitoring and scrutinizing PIA affairs,” the sources said.
retired colonels were inducted and given powers beyond their capacity
by Ahmed Saeed while none of them had the experience and training
to run the sensitive departments they were given.
Saeed is using his connections in Islamabad to cover up his scandals
was evident from the manner in which General Musharraf’s
friend and his one-time Information Minister, now Chairman of
the Senate Standing Committee on Defence, Government party Senator
Nisar Memon of IBM origin, on May 24 vetoed the findings of his
own sub-committee and allowed the PIA management to proceed with
the sale of six Airbus aircraft for $10.1 million, a decision
originally taken by Saeed. If Memon had stopped the sale, fingers
would have been raised on Saeed.
could be more blatant and non-transparent as Memon contemptuously
rejected the findings of his own Senate sub-committee, comprising
two members of the Government and one from the Opposition, set
up on April 14, to probe the sale of the A300B4 type aircraft.
to Daily Dawn, the Press was barred from the committee's
meeting which provoked its opposition members to stage a token
walkout. Two members of the sub-committee, senators Asif Jatoi
and Rukhsana Zuberi, had raised serious questions about transparency
in the sale.
a note of dissent submitted to the standing committee, opposition
Senators Farhatullah Babar and Rukhsana Zuberi, said: "The
sale of six airworthy aircraft for a paltry sum of $10.1 million
and leasing of aircraft at 2.2 times higher cost (of $22 million)
is not sound judgment and seems to be based on other considerations."
note said the sale of A300B4 aircraft should be dropped, as recommended
by the sub-committee, in the national interest and in the interest
failed to make a cogent and satisfactory case to sell the aircraft
and questions about transparency and feasibility persist,"
said the dissenting senators.
an official handout issued by the Senate secretariat said the
PIA management gave satisfactory replies to "most" of
the questions raised by the sub-committee. It was a simple case
of bull-dozing the Parliament and white-washing the sins of Ahmed
Saeed, an Opposition source said.
As Nisar Memon covered up for Saeed in the Parliamentary Committee,
inaction by Kirmani was evident on other fronts as well.
in the PIA Headquarters in Karachi said one of the pet projects
of Saeed, run by his IT chief, Nadeem Ikram, a business partner
of Saeed’s son, valued at US$30 million, is still on, although
no airline in the world employs this system for the purpose PIA
is using it, ERP, as it is called.
Kirmani doesn't know what type of mafia men he has inherited in
PIA. Trust me he doesn't. The only way, he will get to know this
is by using the mafia knowledge of some other guy(s) who used
to be part of the gang. You know this is how FBI solves the mafia
problems,” a former PIA executive told the South Asia
executive said Kirmani should "take over" the PIA in
the real sense and work on an agenda which should include the
following steps, on an emergency basis:
Stop all IT or otherwise capital intensive projects till Ministry
of Defence audits are completed on each project. Deploy
experts to determine the business case justification behind these
key projects and seek answers to the questions being raised:
a) Abacus NMC project
- How much is it costing PIA.
- What is the quantified benefit (realized in last 4 months).
- Who is running it, said to be the girl friend of a Deputy MD.
Sabre's revenue accounting Project
- How much did it cost.
- Why won't they let Sabre run it? May be then the real numbers
will show up.
- What are they doing to make use of it.
- Why are they keen on not using any Revenue Accounting System.
c) SAP -ERP project
- Where is the business case.
- How much has been paid so far and to whom.
- Who signed this.
AIMS Crew system project
- Where is the business case.
- Nadeem Ikram declared this project a success when no one uses
- If this is a system then how come 70-80 staff are required to
- Why didn't they get a crew system from their existing vendor
Sabre when Sabre apparently offered this for FOC.
- How much has been spent so far on this.
e) Route by Route analysis of every route that Saeed
opened up in last 3 years
- Which airline in the world will fly a B-777 between Pakistan
and Houston 2 times a year.
- What is the monthly lease payment on the aircraft.
- What is the operating cost for fuel, insurance, crew, station
- How many passengers they have flown in last 6 months. How
much did each passenger pay.