PIA flight ban to be lifted after UN aviation agency’s audit in July — CAA

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane arrives at the Benazir International airport in Islamabad, Pakistan, on December 2, 2015. (REUTERS/File)
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Updated 09 April 2021

PIA flight ban to be lifted after UN aviation agency’s audit in July — CAA

  • PIA says has cleared global airlines body IATA’s safety audit but can’t resume flights to UK, Europe, US until CAA clears ICAO audit
  • Pakistan faced global censure and flight bans last year following a scandal involving fraudulently obtained pilots’ licenses

ISLAMABAD: A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson said on Thursday a flight ban on Pakistan’s national carrier, Pakistan International Airlines, would be lifted after the CAA cleared a July 5 audit from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations that works to ensure safety in international air transport.

Pakistan faced global censure and flight bans last year following a scandal involving fraudulently obtained pilots’ licenses that came to light after a Pakistan International Airlines jet crashed in Karachi.

An inquiry into the crash in which 97 people were killed pointed to the pilots not following procedures, while a government minister said the voice recorder suggested the pilots were distracted by a conversation about the COVID-19 outbreak.

Following the crash, Pakistan opened criminal investigations into 50 pilots and at least five civil aviation officials who allegedly helped them falsify credentials to secure licenses.

The scandal tainted Pakistan’s aviation industry globally, and especially hurt PIA, which has been barred from flying to Europe and the United States after dozens of its pilots were named in an initial list of 262 with “dubious” licenses. 

A CAA official said his organization’s ICAO audit was scheduled for July 5, after which the PIA flight ban would be lifted.

“We are preparing for the ICAO audit from all aspects and are hopeful to clear it,” Saad bin Ayub, a spokesperson for the CAA, told Arab News. 

A spokesperson for PIA said the airline had received the mandatory International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) operational clearance certificate for the next two years, but could not resume its suspended flight operations to the United Kingdom, European Union and United States anytime soon.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) placed a six-month ban on PIA flights in July 2020 and has since been extending the ban until CAA clears its mandatory external audit from the ICAO.

“We have passed the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) for the next two years … but still we can’t resume our flight operations until the civil aviation authority also clears its ICAO audit,” Abdullah Hafeez Khan, a PIA spokesperson, told Arab News.

The IOSA issues an operational clearance certificate every two years to all its member airlines after performing a thorough safety audit. It conducted the audit for PIA in October last year and has now granted the license to the airlines for the next two years.

“The scrutiny of our operations was increased after the plane crash and the pilots’ flying licenses scandal,” Khan said, adding that PIA was waiting for CAA’s audit clearance to resume its flight operations to the UK, EU and US.

The Civil Aviation Authority has had its international audit deferred since 2009 for different reasons, including manpower shortages and lack of expertise. Officials said the International Civil Aviation Organization was not ready to let the CAA continue its operations without a complete audit of its regulatory functions, licensing, airworthiness and flight standards.


World must recognize Pakistan's commitment to regional stability, says top general

Updated 10 April 2021

World must recognize Pakistan's commitment to regional stability, says top general

  • General Nadeem Raza asks the international community to take notice of rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir
  • Says the nation has high expectations of the country's armed forces while addressing a graduation ceremony at the Pakistan Military Academy

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Nadeem Raza said Saturday the world must recognize Pakistan's consistent peace overtures to its eastern neighbor and take notice of rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir while addressing graduating cadets at the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul.
According to an official statement released by the military media wing, ISPR, Raza said his country was committed to peace and had made significant contributions to regional stability.
He also maintained that the whole nation stood united against the menace of extremism and had high expectations of the Pakistani armed forces.
The CJCSC made these observations during his visit to the country's premier military training institution where he reviewed the graduation parade of the 143rd PMA Long Course.
Among those who successfully completed the rigorous training also included young cadets from Iraq, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal.
Raza advised all PMA graduates, including members of the 17th Lady Cadet Course, to keep themselves abreast with latest challenges.
"The only way to meet these challenges is through professional prowess and dedication as the Nation pins high hopes on Armed Forces of Pakistan," the ISPR statement quoted him as saying.


Rizwan steers Pakistan to their highest-winning T20 run chase

Updated 10 April 2021

Rizwan steers Pakistan to their highest-winning T20 run chase

  • Pakistan's previous highest T20 chase was 188 against Australia in Harare in 2018
  • Rizwan made an unbeaten 74 as Pakistan chased down a target of 189 with one ball to spare

JOHANNESBURG: Opening batsman Mohammad Rizwan steered Pakistan to their highest winning run chase as they beat South Africa by four wickets in the first Twenty20 international at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Rizwan made an unbeaten 74 as Pakistan chased down a target of 189 with one ball to spare.

Their previous highest T20 chase was 188 against Australia in Harare in 2018.

The match swung in the last four overs of the two innings.
South Africa could score only 29 in their last four overs, while Pakistan thrashed 52 off the last 3.5 overs

BRIEF SCORES

South Africa 188-6 in 20 overs (A. Markram 51, H. Klaasen 50; Mohammad Nawaz 2-21, Hasan Ali 2-28)

Pakistan 189-6 in 19.5 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 74 not out, Faheem Ashraf 30; B. Hendricks 3-32, T. Shamsi 2-29)

RESULT

Pakistan won by 4 wickets

Series: Pakistan lead the four-match series 1-0

Toss: South Africa


Major opposition party leads in re-election in Pakistani town of Daska

Updated 11 April 2021

Major opposition party leads in re-election in Pakistani town of Daska

  • Local news channels claim the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is winning the contest in Punjab's NA-75 constituency
  • The Election Commission of Pakistan held a by-poll in the area last February but later declared it null and void

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s local news channels claimed Saturday the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party was winning a closely watched electoral contest for a National Assembly seat in Punjab that fell vacant after the death of an opposition lawmaker Syed Iftikharul Hassan Shah last year.
Tens of thousands of people voted to elect their new representative in a re-election held earlier in the day for the NA-75 seat from Daska, a small town in Sialkot district.
The country’s election authorities held a by-poll in the area last February, but later declared the contest null and void due to widespread irregularities that the PML-N blamed on the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
The Election Commission of Pakistan suspected back in February that the results of 20 polling stations had been falsified.
Saturday’s electoral contest was largely believed to be between PML-N candidate Nosheen Iftikhar and PTI ticket holder Ali Asjad Malhi, though there were other politicians who also participated in it.
Pakistani election authorities informed a local news channel earlier in the day they had tried to provide a free and fair environment to hold a transparent election.
“Rangers are on patrol duty, ensuring the transportation of election staff and material, while army troops have been stationed in Daska Stadium and will be available on call,” Dawn newspaper reported. “To make the conduct of the re-poll transparent, CCTV cameras have been installed at 47 sensitive polling stations, out of a total 360.”


Pakistan among nations subject to quarantine in Ireland starting April 15

Updated 10 April 2021

Pakistan among nations subject to quarantine in Ireland starting April 15

  • Dublin joined neighboring Britain in bringing in the regime for people from countries deemed "high risk"
  • Strict lockdown in Ireland has turned one of the world's highest incidence rates of COVID-19 into one of Europe's lowest

DUBLIN: Ireland added Pakistan, Turkey, United States, Canada, Belgium, France and Italy to its list of countries where arrivals will be subject to mandatory hotel quarantine, tightening some of Europe's toughest travel restrictions to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Ireland, the only one of the European Union's 27 countries to introduce a hotel quarantine, announced it will also require all arrivals to have booked a COVID-19 test for five days after landing in addition to one taken in the days before travelling.

It followed neighbouring Britain in bringing in the regime for people from countries deemed "high risk" or those without a negative COVID-19 test. However, Britain has so far resisted calls for the inclusion of some European countries.

A strict lockdown in Ireland since late December has turned one of the world's highest incidence rates of COVID-19 into one of Europe's lowest.

Elsewhere in the continent, Norway requires a forced stay in a quarantine hotel for at least a week for anyone coming from abroad who does not own property, or can borrow the use of a property, in the country.

Armenia, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Curacao, Kenya, Luxembourg, Maldives and Ukraine will also be subject to quarantine in Ireland starting April 15, the health ministry said in a statement.

Israel, Albania and Saint Lucia were removed, having been added just over a week ago, meaning arrivals from more than 70 countries must quarantine for up to 14 days in a hotel room, or leave after 10 if they test negative for COVID-19.

The government initially stopped short of a recommendation by health officials last week to add a number of EU countries where large numbers of Irish nationals live, citing potential legal challenges around the bloc's freedom of movement rules.

Hotel quarantine rules are planned to be in place for only a few months, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said this week. Tourism groups have criticised the government for not providing an exit plan on how they would unwind the measures.

"We can see a permanent pathway out of this pandemic but can't allow variants of concern to set us back on the progress we have made," Donnelly said in a statement on Friday.


Pakistan appoints sixth revenue chief in less than three years

Updated 10 April 2021

Pakistan appoints sixth revenue chief in less than three years

  • Under IMF spotlight, country’s tax machinery is tasked with increasing tax collection by 27%
  • Tax collection is a perennial problem in Pakistan, where less than 1 percent of the population files income tax

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s government appointed its sixth tax chief in two and a half years on Friday, as International Monetary Fund (IMF) scrutiny increases on the country’s woeful tax collection record in recent weeks.
The new Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) chief, Asim Ahmed, formerly a grade-21 officer of the Inland Revenue Service, will take over a less than coveted job in a country where tax collection is a perennial problem, and where less than 1 percent of the population files income tax.
Since coming to power in 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan made boosting tax collection a top priority for his government, appealing to overseas Pakistanis to invest in the country and urging the wealthy to pay more income tax.
But under the spotlight of a renewed IMF program, this is a critical hour for the country’s tax machinery as it is tasked with the impossible-- to increase the collection of taxes by a whopping 27 percent in the next fiscal year while focusing collection on the basis of people’s ability to actually pay up.
With his hands tied due to an agreement between Pakistan and the IMF on the broader contours of next year’s budget, a huge challenge for the new chairman will be to finalize a balanced taxation budget while achieving a tax collection target of nearly Rs6 trillion.
Ahmed will replace Javed Ghani, who attained the age of superannuation on Friday after remaining the FBR chairman for 100 days.