Against PIA Chief: Offers Public Apology for Mismanagement
November 27: The sky has started to fall for PIA Chairman Choudhry
Ahmed Saeed, as country’s National Accountability Bureau
(NAB) last week started asking him, and 17 other PIA officials,
some searching questions and Saeed had to offer a humiliating
and incriminating public apology over the Umra bookings fiasco
which stranded more than 20,000 passengers in Saudi Arabia.
But Saeed is not giving up without
his last ditch attempt to finalize the last multi-million dollar
aircraft purchase deal for PIA, which aviation experts say, will
be a simple rape of PIA, compounded many times over in coming
a string of in-depth and fully documented investigative reports
by the South Asia Tribune, finally the sleeping sleuths
of the NAB woke up last week to start a round of questioning about
the many purchase deals, kickbacks and management disasters.
downfall started Nov 5 when his main player Air Vice Marshal Niaz
was fired on charges of corruption but the real story revolves
around the two PIA directors, believed by Saeed to be his men,
but who turned out to be spies for the Army, and who turned approver
against Saeed, giving the NAB all the documents and information
it needed to start a probe against Saeed.
story of the probe was broken by Karachi’s Daily News
which gave a banner headline, shaking the PIA corporate structure
from top to bottom. See pix above,
Click for full story
The story revealed that despite his
connections with General Musharraf, Saeed himself had been questioned
by the NAB about the Rs 23 billion (US$380 million) grant which
PIA had been paid in recent years.
the grant and violation of rosy promises of annual profits of
billions of rupees, PIA was sinking and asking for more grants
from the Government. This annoyed Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
more than anyone else as Aziz was already not in favor of doling
out billions to an organization just because its Chairman was
a friend of the country’s military ruler.
inside story of how NAB got involved and Saeed was betrayed was
revealed by PIA sources to the South Asia Tribune. Two
retired Army officers, who Chairman Saeed thought were his dependable
confidants, were actually planted moles inside his corporate headquarter.
own Special Assistant, Col. (Retd) Mahmud Ahmed and Col. (Retd)
Ahsan Siddiqui, Director Airport Services, were secretly passing
all relevant documents to the NAB while Saeed was trusting them
as shields. Saeed had brought Col. Mahmud into PIA in violation
of all rules and regulations, similar to those for which former
National Assembly Speaker Yusuf Raza Gilani is now serving a 10-year
Mahmud was given Group-9 instead
of Group-7 but he was soon confirmed as a permanent employee although
rules ban any one over the age of 49 to be employed on a regular
basis. Saeed thought that Col. Mahmud would protect him but while
enjoying the perks and privileges, he was all the time working
secretly for the Army.
Col. Ahsan was also given undue importance
and positions and recently was the main character who was responsible
for the Umra scandal. But instead of firing or punishing him,
Saeed sent him to Jeddah to probe the Umra fiasco. By this time
Ahsan knew that Saeed’s time was up so he returned a damning
report blaming the PIA bosses for the mismanaged operation.
November 24, Saeed had no choice but to come out with a public
apology admitting the guilt saying: "It is unfortunate that
PIA could not foresee this year the extent of the huge increase
in the number of Umra passengers, who wanted to return within
a particular timeframe and hence could not make adequate arrangements."
Click for Dawn Report on apology
A press release issued by PIA said:
“The chairman had assured that the responsible personnel
would be taken to task and corrective measures would be taken
for Umra operations next year and afterwards. Standing operation
procedures are being amended accordingly and the corporation assures
that this will not happen in future."
"On my behalf and on behalf
of the corporation I extend my sincere apologies to all people
who have been put to inconvenience," the release said.
But it raised more questions than
it answered as Saeed had promised all those responsible will be
taken to task but not one had been suspended or sacked. Instead,
one accused had become an approver with the NAB and was now debriefing
the Generals about activities of Saeed and his coterie of other
17 other PIA executives who were being questioned by NAB include
close Saeed associated ousted Deputy Managing Director AVM Niaz,
other DMDs Kaleem Malik and Farooq Shah, Kamran Hasan, Director
of Marketing, Director Rashid Hasan, S.M. Siddiq and Shah Nawaz
These executives are being asked
about every deal Saeed had made in his disastrous 4-year tenure
– from Boeing 777 to Airbus A-310, to Retrofit program in
which seats were replaced in all aircraft for $50,000 a piece.
The focus would also be on the appointment
of a friend of Saeed as Cargo Sales Agent for monopoly in Europe,
the PIA shares scandal in which ordinary shareholders were ripped
off by misleading statements and statistics given by the management.
Some of these officials are being
asked why they had suddenly changed their opinions about the purchase
of one kind of aircraft to another when as officers in other capacities
they had opposed the same purchases.
But while all this is going on, Saeed
believes he can still negotiate and get away with the final deal
for PIA which will make his 4-year term as one in which PIA over-spent
billions, more than anyone else, in purchasing aircraft which
it could neither afford nor needed.
This deal is for Dash-8 Bombardier
aircraft to replace the Fokker fleet and all experts say it is
just not needed as PIA itself has said that not just the purchase
will have to be financed by the Government, the operations of
these aircraft for many years would have to be subsidized as well
because they will run on socio-economic or “loss-making
Experts are seriously questioning the logic but Saeed is reported
to have already made a down-payment of US$ 100,000 to Bombardier
to clinch the deal and tie PIA in a way that it may find difficult
to get out without a substantial loss.
Experts say Saeed has asked (as if
PIA is asking) the Government for $10 million for buying 8 Bombardier
aircraft. Then they will need an additional $10 million per year
to run these aircraft operations.
The so called reason/justification
is that these will be used to operate on so called socio-economic
routes. They are incorrectly stating that even the US Government
provide such capital (not calling is subsidy) to various US airlines
to fly non profitable routes at remote areas.
“The reference to US is baked
with lies. US provides subsidy that is true but they allow any
licensed US airliner to bid on it. There is no grand fathering
to one airline like PIA wants,” according to one expert.
“The funding approach is still coming from the non-competitive
mind set. These people are using failed formulae from past decades
to solve tomorrow's problem. The second problem is that they're
looking at the wrong aircraft,” the expert said.
No one is buying Bombardier for quite
some time. After the recent crash of a Bombardier plane belonging
to the China Eastern Airlines in Inner Mongolia, because of some
maintenance issues, all Bombardier aircraft have been grounded,
They argue that Government should not fund the purchase of these
aircraft as it would amount to a plain and simple rape. “People
like Saeed should go back where they came from and sell shoes.
If Musharraf wants to write him a $10 million check for being
a loyal crony, let him do so from his own pocket,” an angry
PIA official said.
Others suggest that only PIA should
not be forced to get in this mess. “Why not ask the currently
licensed, and operating, private airlines to bid for these routes?”
say PIA bidding for these routes will be no different than what
Pakistan Tele-communications Authority (PTA) has done with mobile
phone licensing. Let the best proven airline, or airlines, buy
these routes with terms and conditions, and GoP doesn't need to
pay them any money.
will require changing the CAA policy but since there is no such
policy invoke, let this job begin. The current PIA policy instead
of the CAA policy must go.
SA Tribune stories on PIA
Weird $2b PIA Deal Which has Raised a Billion Questions
of Billions Shown by PIA are Manipulated Statistics
to Pledge Entire Fleet to US: Registers Aircraft in Cayman Islands
Tall Claims, PIA's Boat is Sinking Fast
A-310 Lease Faus Pax Costs Millions to Airline
the Web of Deceits, Scandals, Cover-ups in PIA
Chief Fights PM Jamali to Win Roosevelt Hotel
PIA Seats Are Turning Into Hot Seats
Top Bosses are Bilking PIA, Under Official Supervision
Documents Reveal PIA Owns No B-777 Aircraft
Much Touted Retrofit Program Collapses Costing Millions
is Musharraf's Cousin Doing in the PIA Kitchen?
Refuses to Provide Key Documents to Defense Committee of Senate
to Sell Roosevelt Hotel to Save a Sinking PIA
Cargo Scandal Hits the European Skies
Managers Caught in Their Own Misleading Web
$50M PIA Deal Nobody Knows About
Chairman's Right Hand Man Fired For Corruption
Scandal Leaves 20,000 Stranded in Jeddah