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RAWALPINDI: Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan Saturday said Pakistan International Airline (PIA) failed to pay the lease amount on time due to coronavirus pandemic and the Malaysian court issued an order without listening to the arguments of airline.

Talking to media persons here, the minister said PIA officials would appear before the London and Kuala Lumpur courts on Jan 22 and Jan 24, respectively. “Only then will the national carrier accept the decision of courts,” he added. PIA had acquired the plane on expensive lease during the last PML-N tenure, he added. The minister said the government believed in taking practical steps for the welfare of masses, adding that the government the construction of 110km long Rawalpindi Ring Road project would not only help resolve the traffic issues but also create job opportunities.

Sarwar said an amount of Rs six billion has been credited to the Rawalpindi administration in that regard and hoped that the ‘ring’ project would be initiated before June 2021. He said five small dams - Daducha, Mujahid, Papin, Chehan and Mahuta Mohra - were being constructed in Rawalpindi to meet irrigation needs of local formers and these would also be helpful to overcome water shortage issues. Sarwar said that Rs 50 million was approved for a plan to resolve the issue of low gas pressure in the twin cities while the practical work has been started in that regard. Replying to a question about the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) protest, he said holding protest was the right of everyone but it should be under law and in accordance with democratic norms. “People have rejected the narrative of PDM,” he remarked.

Later, the minister inaugurated the gas supply project to the seven villages of Takht Padi Union Council of Rawat.—APP

RECORDER REPORT adds: The national flag carrier said that the PIA aircraft has been held back on the orders of a local court in Malaysia which, it argued, has taken a one-sided decision pertaining to a legal dispute between the PIA and another party pending in a UK court.

"The passengers are being looked after and alternate arrangements for their travel have been finalised," the PIA assured on its official Twitter account.

The national airline also said that it has engaged support from the government of Pakistan to take up this matter using diplomatic channels.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021