The Supreme Court of Pakistan has allowed Arshad Malik to continue as chief executive of PIA - Pakistan International Airlines (PK, Islamabad Quaid-e-Azam Int'l), the Pakistan Press International news agency reported.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed had been hearing Malik's appeal against an order by the Sindh High Court, which, as previously reported, had restrained him from performing his duties as he allegedly lacked the education and experience necessary for the job. A Supreme Court ruling in January rejected an appeal by Malik to be fully reinstated.

However, during the most recent hearing, Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan appeared before the bench to testify that Malik had been appointed chief executive through a legal process and asked the judges to allow him to continue, especially as the flag carrier had shown improved results in its recent operations.

The bench said on March 18 that several bigger issues needed to be dealt with at the airline to improve its performance further, firstly to downsize the "excessive" number of employees in relation to its fleet size. A second issue is that PIA has been awarding too many contracts to suppliers not selected on merit but the basis of favouritism and political exigency. Thirdly, the high turnover of staff and frequent transferrals was not benefiting PIA, the judges said.

Given all these factors, the bench said that airline executives would be summoned to appear before the Supreme Court and that the full details of all contracts awarded by PIA at all levels must be submitted in a report within one month. The bench then adjourned the hearing until April 18.