Airlines’ pilots fake credentials
Minister for Civil Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan told that inquiry against pilots, having dubious credential, has been completed and 262 pilots have been grounded.
They include 141 pilots of Pakistan International Air Line (PIA) nine from Air Blue and 10 from Serene Air. The large number of pilots from PIA with fake credentials is yet another glaring example of accumulated mess of the past.
However, the present government with razor thin majority, which is largely dependent on the support of allied parties, may find it near to impossible to take action against the influential political figures, who managed to recruit them at the expense of human lives. Last year, the incumbent management of PIA terminated the services of few ground staff of the National Carrier on the basis of holding bogus documents. Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan of PML-N had expressed his outrage on this inevitable disciplinary action on the floor of the house in Senate Session. It shows how much political patronage fake degree holders enjoy, while in service in institutions of strategic importance.
The matter of pilots with ingenuine flying licenses poses a grave risk to human lives during air travel. The government took right decision to make their names public by uploading on the website of Civil Aviation Authority and informing flying clubs. In a media talk, former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbassi, who owns major stakes in Air Blue, condemned the decision of making public the names of pilots of bogus credentials. Nine pilots of this airline have also been grounded. He said the matter should have remained confined to disciplinary action by the regulator, without the involvement of federal government.
Blowing it out of proportion will damage the image of the country abroad. The issue is not that simple and straight forward, because International Air Transport Association (IATA) has now taken a notice of it. It was on the recommendation of (IATA) that the United States and European Union countries had banned PIA flights in their skies during the tenure of last PML-N government. The main reason cited was the large number of faulty and outmoded aircrafts in the fleet of the National Air Line. The irregularity of inducting pilots of counterfeit licenses is unlawful and can be used as pretext for banning the flight of national airline and other Pakistani airlines on international routes.
PIA was kept in the dilapidated state by the previous government to pave the way for its privitisation at throw away price, for which air traffic was declared as core function, loans, worn out airplanes and other liabilities as non-core function of the airline. The air traffic was selected for privitisation. Abandoning the induction of new aircraft in the fleet of PIA, appointments on political basis and adoption of open skies policy of PML-N government resulted in huge losses of the national carrier in addition to overburdening it with loans of over Rs. 200 billion.
The matter cannot be hushed up as suggested by the former Prime Minister. The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Gulzar Ahmad had summoned the Director General Civil Aviation Authority to explain the allegation of fake licenses acquired by some pilots of different airlines, who fly passenger aircrafts and thus put the lives of people at risk. He is required to submit a comprehensive report in this regard within two weeks. Moreover, Chief Executive Officers of PIA, Air Blue and Serene Air will also appear before the court when hearing of the case resumes after three weeks. Hence, resentment shown against the involvement of the government and making a statement of the Minister for Civil Aviation in the National Assembly is justified in the larger national interest. Let us hope a precedent shall be set to take the matter of dubious credential of Airlines’ pilots to logical end to slam the doors on induction in national institutions on political basis, which unfortunately had been an established norm in the governments of other two mainstream political parties.