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Pakistan to lose its national airline PIA

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Islamabad: Pakistan may soon find itself without any national airline after an ordinance set the stage for the privatization of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

An editorial “The PIA story” in a leading newspaper said that the PIA, which once used to be the pride of the nation and was rated as one of Asia’s best airlines in its early days, will be seeing a changed view of reality.

“The promulgation of the PIA Corporation Conversion Ordinance by the president…means that the corporation is now a limited company. This means the federal government will have less control over its affairs. The stage is thus set for privatisation – the way in today’s world to make things work,” it said.

There is already conjecture that a Middle-East based buyer has been found to take over the entity.

The decision is sure to have major consequences.

“PIA, by its own admission, has been building up huge losses for years. These stood at over Rs 119 billion two years ago. In the first quarter of this year, it ran up a loss of nearly two billion.”The editorial noted that the PIA question has been hovering for years and no one managed to find a way to save it.

“…It will now be feared that subsidies presently offered to passengers from remote areas such as Skardu and Gilgit who use PIA flights to reach their almost inaccessible homes will disappear. Costs for other passengers could rise too.”

It further added: “It is true PIA is overstaffed by an estimated 5,000 employees and has a ludicrous ratio of about 500 staff per plane (the average for airlines is 150 per aircraft). It also has a worsening safety, punctuality and regularity record.”

It went on to say that in a better world, perhaps, an attempt at managing PIA better could have kept it flying in the sky wearing Pakistan’s colours.

“Right now, it has effectively been stripped of them as it goes out of the state’s hands. If things go as planned, the most important question will be that of transparency in the whole process of the privatisation. The question of transparency – to avoid unsavoury deals, commissions and bad bargains, and to protect people/consumers in whose names such decisions are always taken – has haunted many an instance of privatisation in the past.” (IANS)

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Women of Pakistan Protest Against Workplace Harassment, Child Marriage

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif lauded "the incredible work our women are doing to strengthen their families, communities and the country"

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Following this, a National Security Committee was also held to discuss Sharif's
Pakistan Flag, wikimedia commons

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, women took to the streets across Pakistan on Friday to protest against sexual harassment in the workplace, child marriage ‘honour killings, wage inequalities and limited political representation.

Organisers hope that the “aurat march” (women’s march) and “aurat azadi march” (women’s liberation march) will draw attention to the struggle for reproductive, economic, and social justice across in Pakistan, reports the Guardian.

The first “Aurat March” was held last year in Karachi; this time, the rally has been extended to more cities, including Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Larkana and Hyderabad.

The aim is to reach ordinary women in factories, homes and offices, says Nighat Dad, an “aurat march” organiser in Lahore.

“We want an organic movement by women demanding equal access to justice and ending discrimination of all kinds.”

Speakers at the Lahore march ranged from a woman fighting to reform marriage laws to the women who worked on the landmark Punjab Domestic Workers’ Act — a legislation that outlaws child labour in homes and provides maternity benefits to workers.

Another activist, Leena Ghani, noted that Pakistani women have a history of taking to the streets, famously during military dictator Zia ul-Haq’s martial law in the 1980s.

Krishna Kumari works in her office in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Feb. 12, 2018. VOA

While Pakistan has made major strides towards gender equality, poorer, marginalised women and transgender citizens continue to struggle, Ghani added.

Designer Shehzil Malik created a series of striking posters for the “aurat march” that counter typical representations of Pakistani women as docile and subservient.

Women are also protesting against discriminatory policies in universities, where male and female students are afforded different levels of freedom, the Guardian said.

A Pakistani university recently caused a furore on social media by banning women from wearing skinny jeans and sleeveless shirts.

Also Read- Originality is a Dichotomous Terminology, Says Megastar Amitabh Bachchan

In his message on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan reaffirmed his government’s commitment to providing women a safe environment so that they could contribute to the country’s development, Dawn news reported.

“We reaffirm our commitment to ensuring women a secure and enabling environment to play their rightful role in our nation’s development.”

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif lauded “the incredible work our women are doing to strengthen their families, communities and the country”. (IANS)