Contradicting aviation minister, Pakistani aviation authority says pilots licenses 'genuine'

People stand in queue as they wait their turn to buy flight tickets outside Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) office in Islamabad on July 1, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 17 July 2020

Contradicting aviation minister, Pakistani aviation authority says pilots licenses 'genuine'

  • The country’s aviation minister claimed last month that 40 percent of Pakistani pilots had ‘dubious licenses’
  • Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority downplays the matter, accuses media of creating unnecessary hype around it

KARACHI: Contradicting a statement made by the federal aviation minister that 40 percent of Pakistani pilots had fake licenses, the country’s civil aviation authority has said in a letter written earlier this week to officials in Oman that these licenses were “genuine and validly issued.”
Addressing the national parliament last month, Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the government had asked various commercial airlines, flying clubs and charter companies to ground a total of 262 pilots due to “dubious licenses.
“Unfortunately, the degrees of four of our pilots were found bogus while 40 percent pilots have fake licenses,” he claimed.
The statement was followed by the release of a list of 144 pilots who were accused of having improper credentials, but it was later retracted due to multiple anomalies.
However, the episode resulted in the suspension of Pakistan International Airlines’ flight operations to Europe and the United States, while several countries around the globe also grounded Pakistani pilots.
The director general of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority, Hassan Nasir, wrote a letter to his counterpart in Oman on July 13, 2020, to inform him about the “situation on the ground,” the aviation division’s spokesperson, Abdul Sattar Khokhar, told Arab News on Wednesday, adding that Pakistan had verified licenses of 166 pilots who were employed by foreign airlines.
Over 800 Pakistani pilots, he added, were associated with local, international and private airlines.
“It is important to clarify that all CPL/ATPL [Commercial Pilots Licenses/Airline Transport Pilots Licenses] issued by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) are genuine and validly issued,” the letter, a copy of which is available with Arab News, asserted.
It added that “none of the Pilot Licenses are fake, rather the matter had been misconstrued and incorrectly highlighted in the media.”
Khokhar maintained the government wanted to ensure maximum air travel safety, adding that it immediately took notice and initiated the verification process of pilots’ credentials after concerns were raised about the validity of their licenses.
The aviation minister declined to comment when asked if he stood by his statement in parliament after the PCAA clarification. However, the Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association (PALPA) welcomed the development, saying it endorsed the stance of its representatives.
“We had already maintained that the ATPL license of any pilot in Pakistan was neither dubious nor fake, and today our stance has been accepted,” the association said in its statement on Wednesday.
However, it noted that the whole episode had damaged the country’s aviation industry, caused national embarrassment and hurt the reputation of Pakistani pilots worldwide.
The secretary general of PALPA said the issue of licenses was mishandled by the minister, PIA management and PCAA.
Speaking to Arab News, Wing Commander (r) Muhammad Naseem Ahmed, an aviation expert, said the minister’s statement had shaken the foundations of the air travel industry.
“The damage to Pakistan International Airlines and the rest of the aviation industry is unspeakable,” Ahmed said, adding that statements on such sensitive issues should be made with utmost care.
“Even the total number of pilots allegedly carrying dubious licenses where changed several times,” he continued, adding that internal investigations were a routine matter everywhere in the world, and the government should have taken action against any pilot who was found guilty after proper inquiry.
Ahmed said that Pakistani pilots were well trained and highly skilled.


Pakistani army chief, Saudi ambassador discuss regional security 

Updated 10 August 2020

Pakistani army chief, Saudi ambassador discuss regional security 

  • Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Malkiy calls on General Qamar Javed Bajwa
  • The two leaders discuss matters of mutual interest, bilateral defense relations 

ISLAMABAD: Nawaf Saeed Al-Malkiy, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, called on Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday and discussed the security situation in the region, the military’s media wing said. 
“Matters of mutual interest, regional security situation and bilateral defense relations between the two brotherly countries were discussed during the meeting,” the Pakistani army said in a statement.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are longtime allies. Saudi Arabia remains the main source of Pakistan’s remittances despite global business shutdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic. The country has also loaned Pakistan billions of dollars in recent months to help stave off a balance of payments crisis, and offered oil on deferred payments.