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Pakistan probes 5 officials in connection with deadly Karachi incident

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Employees of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) chant slogans as they gather outside Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad, February 5, 2016, during a protest strike against the privatization of the PIA. (AFP photo)

Five Pakistani officials, including a former adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, are to be questioned over accusations of involvement in the murder of two airline employees.

On February 2, clashes erupted between security forces and staff at the Karachi International Airport. Two Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees were killed and several more wounded.

Authorities denied reports of opening fire, claiming that gunmen in the crowd killed the victims.

Senior police official Rao Anwar said on Saturday that police registered a case against one federal cabinet minister, a senator, a former adviser to Sharif as well as two airline officials after the PIA employees' Joint Action Committee filed a complaint.

A team is also being formed to take further action, he added, as the five are accused of plotting to kill the protesters who were angry at a bill that would make the PIA a public limited company.

Pakistani paramilitary soldiers baton charge on employees of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) during a protest near the Karachi International Airport, in Karachi, southern Pakistan, on February 2, 2016. (AFP photo)

Meanwhile, a strike by the PIA staff across the country continues. The protest action grounded the national flag carrier’s foreign and domestic flights on Saturday. The walkout left thousands of passengers, including Pakistani domestic workers trying to fly to the Middle East, stranded at airports.

The development comes despite a warning by Sharif that the demonstration is illegal and those taking part could face up to a year in jail.

Last December, Pakistan announced plans to privatize its national carrier in 2016, following years of increasing losses and mismanagement that have badly tarnished the airline's reputation both in the country and worldwide.

Pakistani Privatization Minister Mohammad Zubair had said the plan to privatize the PIA would get underway as of July 2016.

The PIA is suffering from frequent cancellations and delays. It has also faced many controversies over the years, including a case in which one of its pilots was jailed in Britain in 2013 for being drunk.

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