PML-N leader Khawaja Asif has termed the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which is facing financial difficulties, a “sick organisation” and suggested that the national carrier should be shut down. “It should have been privatised 30 to 35 years ago. It’s a sick organisation that is haemorrhaging,” he said while speaking to a private news channel, adding that it was “criminal” to even say that the flag carrier should not be sold to private parties. “It owes around Rs700 billion in loans on which Rs86bn are paid annually in interest,” the ex-defence minister highlighted, adding that the airline should be shut down. “Its operations should be closed, and it should be replaced by a new airline. As for its employees, they should be given golden handshakes,” he said. Asif added that any new airlines replacing the PIA should not be operated by the government but the private sector. On September 6, the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) had decided to form a technical committee for the resolution of bottlenecks in the way of privatisation and restructuring of the PIA, and had asked the aviation division to work with the privatisation commission to present a detailed action plan to the CCoP with clear timeline framework in a sequence. Around a week later, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar tasked newly appointed Privatisation Minister Fawad Hassan Fawad with expediting the PIA’s privatisation of process. And as recently as Wednesday, the Privatisation Commission agreed on a clear timeline for the PIA’s privatisation. However, no details of the proposed timeline have been shared by the commission yet. These developments came against the backdrop of the PIA’s increasing financial woes.