Coronavirus takes further toll on Pakistani media 

In this picture, AFP photographer Aamir Qureshi covers Christian devotees celebrating a Palm Sunday service in a neighborhood during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Islamabad on April 5, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 28 May 2020

Coronavirus takes further toll on Pakistani media 

  • Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) calls on media organizations to enforce stricter safety rules
  • More than 150 journalists are known to have tested positive for COVID-19

KARACHI: Three Pakistani media staff lost their battle with the coronavirus on Thursday, as pressure is mounting on news organizations to protect their workers.
Two Radio Pakistan employees, Urdu newscaster Huma Zafar and senior broadcast engineer Muhammad Ashfaq died of COVID-19 on Thursday morning, the radio confirmed in a statement.
Also in the morning, 92 News senior reporter Fakhruddin Syed succumbed to the disease.
“Fakhruddin Syed is the first journalist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who lost his life due to this pandemic. He was one of the pioneers from 92 News HD channel,” 92 News said in an obituary on its website.
Last week, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) appealed to media organizations to enforce stricter safety rules, as more journalists have been sent into the field since the country lifted the remaining restrictions imposed on businesses to slow the pandemic.
The PFUJ’s COVID-19 committee head, Zulfiqar Ali Mehto, told Arab News on May 21 that the majority of the infected were reporters, cameramen and photojournalists, which implies that they had contracted the virus during field coverage.
Newsrooms are not safe either, according to PFUJ.
“We have rigorously worked on collecting data and have analyzed each case, which tells us that protective measures are not being taken seriously. If a single person is infected, given almost zero space between workstations, the virus may spread across the whole office,” Mehto said, adding that few media organizations provided hand sanitizers, face masks and gloves to their staff.
More than 150 journalists are known to have tested positive for the virus, according to PFUJ’s last week’s report. 
With Thursday’s victims, at least six Pakistani media workers have died of the disease.


Abu Dhabi's Etihad auditing Pakistan-issued pilot licences amid concerns

Updated 02 July 2020

Abu Dhabi's Etihad auditing Pakistan-issued pilot licences amid concerns

  • Says it is trying to verify the qualifications and licenses of the Pakistani pilots employed by the airlines
  • UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement it was in contact with authorities in Pakistan over the issue 

DUBAI: Etihad Airways is auditing its pilots with Pakistan-issued licenses, the Abu Dhabi airline said on Thursday.
Last month, Pakistan grounded 262 pilots amid suspicions they cheated on their examinations to operate aircraft, and the United Arab Emirates aviation regulator has said it was reviewing licenses issued in the country.
"We have worked closely with the (UAE) General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to verify the qualifications and licenses of the Pakistani pilots employed by Etihad," an Etihad spokeswoman told Reuters.
"While we can confirm the authenticity of these pilots, we are however carrying out further precautionary due diligence with an additional audit."
The GCAA in a statement released earlier on Thursday said it was reviewing its records to ensure no "suspicious licences issued by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority" had entered its system.
The GCAA said it was in contact with Pakistani authorities but did not indicate whether it had taken any preliminary action against pilots with licences issued in the country.
On Tuesday, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspended two Pakistani airlines' authorization to fly to the bloc for six months.
A day earlier Vietnam announced that it was grounding all 12 Pakistani pilots working in the country.