PM’s aviation adviser steps down

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ISLAMABAD  – Prime minister’s adviser on aviation, Shujaat Azeem, has resigned against the backdrop of some cases pending with the Supreme Court involving his dual nationality, court martial in Pakistan Air Force and association with Royal Airport Services.
Azeem issued a detailed statement to announce his resignation and respond to some relevant queries he had never spoken of publicly.
Azeem says in his statement, “I was asked by the prime minister of Pakistan to serve the nation in the capacity of an adviser on aviation and was appointed through a notification on June 7, 2013. The prime minister of Pakistan had considered me qualified on account of my long experience of the aviation sector as well as on account of the personal trust that the prime minister has (in me) as regards my loyalty to Pakistan. The post of the adviser is not something I had ever sought. A pre-condition to my accepting the post of adviser was that I would draw no salary or other benefits for the services to be rendered by me. My Canadian nationality, acquired in the year 2004, along with my citizenship of Pakistan on account of birth and lineage were facts well known to the prime minister of Pakistan at the time of my appointment as an adviser. I had received legal opinion from Mr Khalid Anwar, a senior advocate of the Supreme Court, that my dual-nationality is not a factor relevant in the eyes of the law and the Constitution. The prime minister of Pakistan appointed me (as) an adviser based on his assessment of my professional competence and suitability. My professional experience in the field of aviation goes back to my training and career with the Pakistan Air Force from 1968 to 1979. During this period, I served as a fighter pilot as well as flying instructor at the air force academy in Risalpur. My academic qualification relevant to aviation is BSc in avionics.”
Regarding his court martial during his early days with the PAF, Azeem says, “I had decided to resign from the air force in the year 1976, and had accordingly applied for permission to resign my commission as flight lieutenant. However, permission was denied to me in spite of the fact that several others who were similarly placed were allowed, from time to time, to resign. I protested the discriminatory treatment that had been meted out to me. Subsequently, I was court martialed for insubordination. At that time I was 28 years old and acted in a manner that reflected my dismay at having been discriminated against. I am now 62 years old and have moved on from the events of my youth. I am proud to state that at no stage in my career have I been charged with any misdemeanor or lapse of character. My professional career after finally leaving the Pakistan Air Force in the year 1979 includes the following: i) Senior pilot with Saudi Oger, a company based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that was owned by the family of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri of Lebanon. ii) I was also consultant to CAE Limited, the largest manufacturer in the world of aviation simulators. iii) I was also consultant to Spar Aerospace, a Canadian company that is a world leader in aircraft wing technology.
During my association with Spar Aerospace, I was successful in bringing investment to Pakistan in the form of a service facility for the maintenance of C-130 craft of the Pakistan Air Force. I was a pioneer in bringing internet and public data network to Pakistan in 1993.”
About his affiliation with Royal Airport Services, Azeem says, “The Royal Airport Services Limited is a company established under the laws of Pakistan. This company was set up in the year 2004 and I own 50 per cent of the paid-up share capital of the said company.
Since 2004 this company has provided ground handling services to all major international carriers serving in Pakistan at the various international airports in Pakistan. This company holds a licence duly issued by the Civil Aviation Authority for the provisions of ground handling services. I resigned from the position of chief executive officer of RAS in February 2013, well before accepting the position of advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Since my appointment as an adviser, Royal Airport Services has terminated its contract with PIA in terms of which handling services had been provided since 2008. This contract was terminated in order to avoid conflict of interest.
I had accepted this challenge and given myself 6-8 months to bring about a meaningful change in the aviation sector. I would never allow my moral integrity and my love and loyalty for Pakistan to be challenged for the sake of an official position, and have therefore submitted my resignation to the Prime Minister of Pakistan.”
Earlier, the Supreme Court was informed that Advisor to Prime Minister on Aviation Captain (r) Shujaat Azeem had decided to resign from his post.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry hearing the case regarding delay and irregularities in the new airport project said: “Let him tender his resignation and the attorney general shall place on record the notification of the acceptance of his resignation in due course of time.”
Shujaat Azeem served the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) as a fighter pilot for 12 years before going abroad to take courses of commercial pilot. Later he landed in Saudi Arabia and was employed by Hariri family that owns a fleet of planes equal to the size of an airline. He was the chief pilot of Hariri’s fleet by the time he quit in 1996 to start his own business.
Attorney General Munir A Malik, appearing along with the advisor on aviation, said that Shujat Azim had decided to resign; following the controversy regarding his appointment emerged.
The AG said: “Azeem was appointed as the advisor upon the desire of the prime minister and not by his own choice. It is also true that he had been court-martialed upon the allegations of insubordination and not on account of any moral turpitude. He has resigned as the CEO of Royal Airport Services before assuming the office of advisor to the prime minister. The case was adjourned until July 29.