These views were expressed by Rana Nazeem, the regional information secretary of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in a statement condemning conspiracies against Zafar Iqbal of the Northern Areas Transport Corporation (Natco).
“These elements are present within the PPP who are provoking Natco employees against Iqbal, who is an honest and sincere officer,” said Nazeem on Thursday.
His comments come a day after a sit-in against Iqbal by a dozen employees, who accused him of ruining the organisation.
“According to government rules, the maximum age limit for employees is 60 and all those who have crossed the limit should be fired immediately,” said Natco Union of Employees President Fazal Elahi. He also called for transparent auditing of Natco’s finances.
Iqbal, whose contract was extended after his retirement, has been criticised by PPP leaders for occupying the post for an extended period of time. Iqbal has been heading the organisation for the past 20 years. He is believed to have transformed the organisation.
Today, it is a large corporation employing hundreds of people, the only one in the public sector providing transport services and the biggest employer in G-B. It is one of the few profit-making enterprises the government can boast of.
Nazeem said the government acknowledges Iqbal’s sincere efforts in building the organisation, which is benefitting thousands of people across the mountainous region marred by poor infrastructure.
Natco General Manager Riaz Hussain has ruled out any form of embezzlement in the organisation. “Natco possesses Rs300 million worth of assets and it would have closed down a long time ago if there were corruption,” he said.
“The organisation is currently paying over Rs150 million in salaries and all important decisions are made by an authorised board so there is no possibility of corruption. Last year, we made a profit of Rs190 million,” he added.
Natco, the largest transport company in G-B, provides bus and jeep services on the Karakoram Highway throughout the region all the way to China and the rest of the country. It is also the only transport company which links Pakistan to China under the protocol agreement between the two countries.
In addition to that, the Steering Committee of the National Assembly of Pakistan has also lauded Natco for its services in the past.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2012.