The Supreme Court on Thursday told Air Marshal Arshad Mehmood Malik to either retain his Pakistan Air Force (PAF) post or his deputed post at the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah declared Air Marshal Malik’s appointment as PIA head ‘illegal’, saying he cannot hold two posts at the same time. “Malik should either relieve himself as a PAF officer or give up PIA post,” remarked the chief justice. “He should resign from the air force and permanently join PIA. Only one thing can be done, either work in PAF or PIA,” he added. The court noted that the national airline requires a ‘permanent chairman’ who can run it along professional lines and make it profitable. It asked Malik to submit a definite answer by the next hearing which will be in the first week of March, noting that a deputed armed force officer should not be leading a national organisation.When Salman Akram Raja, representing the PIA’s board of governors, told the court that former air marshal Nur Khan had also worked for the national carrier, the chief justice remarked that “they were big people and should not be compared to anyone.” Raja argued that a retired air marshal was locked in his office by the PIA union. However, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah observed that Raja’s argument paints an abysmal picture of the State’s writ. “Are you saying the union will not let PIA function if there is no fear of the armed forces?” he questioned. The chief justice noted that the Pakistan Steel Mills was also taken over by an acting army officer but showed no signs of improvement. “The PSM is posting loss every year,” he observed. During the hearing, Raja said an earlier decision to sell an aircraft was taken by then CEO Bernd Hildenbrand, when the court asked for details of the sale. “The plane was used for a movie shoot in Malta before being parked at a German airport. We were paid €210,000 for it,” he said.The chief justice termed ‘grave’ the reports of the plane being lent to an Israeli production company. He also noted that the cost of flying and parking the plane in Germany exceeded its selling price. Raja told the apex court that the PIA board was reviewing why the plane was parked at a German airport for so long. Justice Gulzar remarked that the national carrier had grounded four planes and details of three are still missing. “Should we allow the current management to operate in such a scenario?” he observed, and added that PIA transactions only exist on paper.The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) informed the bench that the PIA board was concealing details regarding the missing plane and sought time to further probe the matter. Emphasising on the bureau’s repetitive request to seek time, the top judge directed it to continue the investigation. The apex court observed that the national carrier should be run professionally and its facilities should not be misused.Accepting Malik’s counsel Naeem Bukhari’s request to deliberate over the matter, the bench adjourned hearing till March.Earlier, on January 21, the apex court had rejected Malik’s appeal against the Sindh High Court’s decision to stop him from performing any functions as CEO of the national airline until a final decision in the present case was made.