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PM says some political parties backing PIA protests

SAHIWAL, 02 FEB, (DNA) – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday said some political parties were patronizing the anti-government protests by Pakistan International Airline (PIA) employees.

Talking to media in Sahiwal, the Prime Minister categorically stated that those resorting to strike will pay the price.

He said government won’t be blackmailed with such tactics. “Politics is being done in the name of PIA,” remarked the prime minister. The Prime Minister blamed unnamed political parties for creating crisis and provoking it.

At least two PIA employees lost their lives in the protest today in Karachi during confrontation with law enforcers.

Earlier, the government also enforced PIA Essential Services Act that bars employees from protest.

Under the act, an employee declining to discharge duties may have to face jail term for as long as up to one year along with dismissal from service.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday announced that the Pakistan International Airlines employees working during the strike will be given special rewards for their service, however, the employees who refused to work will be punished and can be sent to jail for one year.

The prime minister accused the workers of politicising the issue by resorting to strike. He said that the act is costing PIA a loss of Rs100 million on daily basis.

In a move to stall the strike, Nawaz had already enforced the Essential Services (Maintenance) Act 1952 for six months, barring protesting members of the PIA from participating in any union activity.

“Any person found guilty of an offence under this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and shall also be liable to a fine,” the legislation reads.

Earlier in the day, two protesters died after sustaining bullet wounds when the law enforcing agencies tried to disperse the protesting PIA employees at Jinnah Terminal in Karachi.

As news of the deaths of two PIA employees spread, the national flag carrier’s flight operations across the country began shutting down in solidarity with the protesters, officials said.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid had also made clear that strict action will be taken against protesting employees. “Let me make clear that those who continue the strike will be treated as enemies of PIA and Pakistan and they will end up losing their jobs,” he stressed.

Employees of the national carrier had threatened to go on strike from Tuesday because of what they called the government’s refusal to accept their main demand of calling off the organisation’s privatisation plan. =DNA

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