LAHORE  - Pakistan International Airlines management has promoted yet another blue-eyed officer from group six to seven as deputy station manager, without any recommendations from the promotion board, sources said on Thursday.

Ishtiaq Lone, who is widely known in PIA circles, had been obliged by successive governments mainly because of his connections with almost all leading political groups. For the first time Lone was obliged by former PIA chairman Ahmad Saeed during the Musharraf government in 2003, when he was sent on a foreign posting in Manchester as passengers services officer in group V.  Then no Promotion and Foreign Posting Board meeting was held and procedure of posting was not followed over unexplained reasons. During his foreign posting his performance was poor and his ACRs remained average or below average. This was the reason that his case was not considered in promotion board’s meeting in 2006.

In 2008 when Capt Ijaz Haroon a crony of President Asif Ali Zardari took over as PIA managing director he announced that those officers of PIA who were not promoted in year 2006 would be given one step promotion from group V to VI. Then Mr Lone was promoted to group VI. In the year 2011, PIA management sought applications from PIA officers for their promotions from group VI to VII.  A promotion board meeting was held and many officers were promoted to group VII except Lone because his ACRs were below average so his case was not considered for promotion to group VII.

In the year 2012 a promotion board meeting was held at PIA headquarters in Karachi for promotion of group VI to VII but Lone’s case was not considered since he did not meet the seniority criterion.

But interestingly when Nawaz Sharif took over the charge of the Prime Minister’s office, PIA MD Capt Junaid Yunis not only issued promotion orders for Lone but his promotion in VI was also announced from the year 2006 rather than 2008. Interestingly, the promotion board meeting of 2013 is scheduled to be held on Friday (today) but decision of promotion of Mr Lone had been done earlier without board’s meeting. It may be mentioned here that Lone superseded more than 100 officers who were senior to him in service for promotion from group VI to VII.

After his promotion PIA management issued his orders as deputy station manager but he is duty exempted. Since he got a directive issued by PIA Headquarters that whenever there would be movement of the Prime Minister of Pakistan or Chief Minister Punjab, Lone would be supposed to handle the movement.

A senior PIA officer seeking anonymity said that it was a strange order never seen in the past. He said Mian brothers had never demanded such handling. Lone was doing everything on his own. Sources said Ishtiaq remained absent from his duty when the prime minister was on his China visit, though he did not travel with prime minister’s delegation he reached China via Bangkok and also returned separately.  Similarly, Lone was with the prime minister when he visited Saudi Arabia for offering Ummrah and returned after 20 days. Sources claimed Ishtiaq is being considered as on duty for above said 20 days with all sorts of foreign station allowances. Mr Lone remained on foreign postings during Mushrraf Era and previous government also.

When contacted spokesman of PIA, Mr Tajwar, said that Lone was superseded by his junior colleagues in the past and he was in appeal against that injustice. Although he was promoted in group V to VI in 2008 now his promotion was considered from the year 2006 but no financial benefit was given to him in this regard.

The spokesman expressed his ignorance over the issuance of any duty exemption orders by PIA management.

About Lone’s average and below average ACRs, he said that during the Musharraf government a bell curve system was introduced for promotions of PIA officers and due to that faulty system. Lone’s ACRs remained.