A four-day-long strike by Pakistan International Airlines employees, which had collapsed domestic and international flights schedule, ended on Friday night after the government removed the Managing Director of the national flag carrier Aijaz Haroon on their demand. The strike was called off after the second round of talks between Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar and representatives of the Joint Action Committee of PIA Employees at the Interior Ministry. Following the government�s assurance that all demands of PIA employees will be met, flight operations reportedly started from all airports of the country. �I have received the resignation of Mr Aijaz Haroon and I accepted it,� said Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar while talking to journalists after the meeting. He said all demands of PIA employees would be met, adding that as far as the Memorandum of Understanding between the PIA and the Turkish Airlines was concerned, he had not seen any such agreement. �No such agreement had ever been sent to my ministry and thus no action is being made on any such MOU,� the minister said. The PIA employees observed the strike on three basic demands � withdrawal of MoU between the national flag carrier and the Turkish Airlines, removal of PIA Managing Director Aijaz Haroon and reinstatement of all sacked employees of PIA. �I assured you that the government will not take any step which will be harmful to PIA, its employees and the country,� the defence minister said, who was seen for the first time in the issue which lasted four days. Before his removal, the PIA Managing Director was seen at the Presidency in the evening during the oath-taking ceremony of new cabinet members which indicated that he had some support from the Presidency and would not be removed due to his close association with President Asif Ali Zardari. The leaders of PIA�s Action Committee also demanded of the government to put the name of Mr Haroon on the Exit Control List so that he could not escape abroad and faced alleged of corruption charges against him. Speaking on the occasion, PIA Action Committee�s chairman Sohail Baloch welcomed the government decision to accept all demands of PIA employees and called off the strike. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had given him and the defence minister a free hand to resolve the issue at any cost. �What has happed should not have happened,� he said while describing clashes between PIA employees and security forces. He said hundreds of passengers had faced a great deal of trouble because of the strike and a number of flights were cancelled and several people lost validity of their visas because of cancellation of their travel to different countries. Earlier, only a few hours before his resignation, Mr Haroon, while talking on different TV channels, had refused to resign saying he would not resign because of accusations of corruption by certain elements as he had to keep his honour before his family and friends. He, however, had offered to appear before a judicial committee. Even around half an hour before he resigned, the PIA spokesperson had issued a press release on his behalf asking the employees to resume work. PROTESTERS BEATEN: At the Karachi airport, protesters turned violent on Friday afternoon when Section 144 was imposed and a large number of police personnel were called in to help the Airport Security Force. Announcements were made asking all people to leave the airport within 10 minutes. The police personnel soon went into action and beat peaceful protesters. They were supported by a large number of stick-wielding people who had emerged from nowhere. The police action injured a number of protesters, some women among them. Some of them got serious injuries, including employees� leader T.M. Rabbani. The action triggered a reaction and JAC leader Sohail Baloch refused to continue talks with the government side unless an FIR was registered against a senator, the PIA MD and Aamir Shah for the attack on peaceful PIA employees.
By: Dawn News