Pakistan is one of the most isolated countries in the world, with one of the weakest passports and fewer flights and connectivity than most of its neighbors. Instead of improving this situation, the Imran Khan led PTI government has only made it worse.
In end June, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, made the startling announcement that “262 airline pilots, whose credentials may have been falsified, will be immediately grounded, pending investigations.” The minister also “declared in the National Assembly that around 150 pilots from PIA had fake licences.” This needs to be seen alongside the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressing concern over the “serious lapse in licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator.”
The minister’s statement had devastating consequences leading to a ban on PIA flights landing in European airports. As it is in 2012 “PIA had lost its safety certification given by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) back in March 2012 after repeated incidents of minor accidents (like a tyre catching fire during landing) or sheer carelessness on the part of the flight or ground crew.”
What is interesting, however, is that according to columnist and analyst, Khurram Hussain “minister does not have evidence that the pilot licences in question are fake. All he has are indications that give grounds to suspect this. Based on these indications, he can proceed under the established rules to determine case by case whether the suspicions are indeed borne out or not. And each pilot in question has to be given a chance to clear his or her position.”
Further, “The minister’s words, which were clearly fired in haste and before even all the facts were in, have clearly tarnished the entire country’s credibility to maintain and operate an aviation sector. Their impact has not fallen only on the pilots named in the list. From here on, it is not just PIA that has to prove that it has pilots and aircraft that are airworthy and adhere to internationally accepted safety standards. It is the entire CAA that has to prove that it has the capability required to issue a wide range of licenses and certificates, that its airports and air traffic control systems are up to international standards, and much more.”