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Old news regarding Islamabad airport taken out of context

Startup Pakistan published information out of context

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Claim: Aviation Minister, Khwaja Saad Rafique announced in the National Assembly that Islamabad Airport will be outsourced for 15 years. 

Fact: While plans are being made to outsource the Islamabad Airport, the bidding process is currently set to start in March 2023. Moreover, the national assembly is not in session, and  Khwaja Saad Rafique is not the current aviation minister. Air Marshal Farhat Hussain Khan is the caretaker adviser to the Prime Minister on Aviation.

On 27 December 2023, Startup Pakistan shared a post on Instagram(archive) claiming that the Islamabad airport is to be outsourced for the next fifteen years. The caption reads,

“Aviation Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique announced in the National Assembly that Islamabad Airport will be outsourced for 15 years. Navigational services and runway operations will remain with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), while other services will be outsourced. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank offshoot, is advising the government on this.

Rafique mentioned that 12-13 companies have shown interest, and competitive bidding will take place following public procurement rules. He assured that outsourcing does not mean selling or mortgaging the airport, nor will it lead to job losses.

Rafique also advocated for privatizing Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), emphasising the need for restructuring to avoid a significant deficit by 2030. He highlighted the creation of a holding company for PIA, and urged for the protection of employees’ rights during the process.

Rafique also shared plans to resume flights to the UK in the next three months, following recent legislative developments.

#PIA #UK #Minister #Aviation #Pakistan #Islamabad #flights

Fact or Fiction?

The caption immediately indicates that the information is outdated as the national assembly is not currently in session, and a caretaker government has governed since August 2023,  when the national and provincial assemblies were dissolved entirely and a caretaker cabinet was instituted to organise the 2024 general elections.

The caption also refers to Khwaja Saad Rafique as the aviation minister. Rafique has not been a minister since the assembly was dissolved. He is one of the most prominent leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN).

Soch Fact Check spoke to Saifullah Khan, the Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson, who told us that the caption is from an earlier discussion on the matter of outsourcing the airports. According to Khan, “outsourcing is an old issue. It was announced earlier this year and then postponed until March 2024, that is when bidders are expected to submit their bids. So yes, the outsourcing will happen, but it is a long and tedious process and this announcement is being taken out of context.”

On searching the keywords from the Instagram caption, we found an article published on Dawn.com on 21 July 2023, excerpts from which were copy-pasted onto the Instagram caption by Startup Pakistan. This conclusively proves that this information is old and is being used out of context.

Virality

The post on Instagram received over 2000 likes. They published the same image with the same caption on Facebook here.

Conclusion: Khwaja Saad Rafique is not the aviation minister anymore and he announced the outsourcing of Islamabad airport in July 2023.

Background image in cover photo: ABC News 

To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com 

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