PIA credibility at stake

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Meher Azeem Hakro;
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) domestic flight crashed in a densely populated residential area of Karachi a few kilometers from the runway in which 97 passengers were killed, while two passengers survived with injuries. According to a government investigation, the pilots were not focused and the coronavirus was being discussed throughout the flight. Further, preliminary investigations also revealed that the pilot and Air Traffic Control (ATC) personnel were at fault because they failed to follow the prescribed procedure that caused the accident. In initial report of the inquiry, the government has also made shocking revelations that about 40 per cent of pilots working with PIA have dubious licences. Many pilots did not even take the test themselves or have any proper flight experience. The appointment of pilots is in majority politically motivated. During the appointment of pilots, merit was constantly ignored. The credentials of 262 PIA pilots were found dubious. On the reaction of the statement of the Federal Minister, PIA has been banned from flying in European airspace for 6 months from 1 July 2020, after EASA determined that the airline is not capable of certifying and overseeing its operators and aircraft in accordance with applicable international standards. The British government has also suspended PIA flights.

The UAE Civil Aviation has also written a letter to Pakistan expressing concern over the suspected licences of pilots and demanding a license check from Pakistan. The UNO has also directed all its affiliated departments not to charter any Pakistani carrier. In addition, Vietnam has grounded all Pakistani pilots on the news of the suspicious licences. Since 1967, PIA was number one in the world in terms of its performance and service. The PIA, which started its journey with limited resources, is also proud to have helped many friendly countries in making airlines. For example, The PIA had played a vital role in establishing Emirates Airlines in 1985. During that era, the selection criterion in every department of PIA was only on merit. Employees of PIA were proud of their technical expertise. The mishandling of the issue by the government not only tarnished Pakistan image, but also damaged the PIA reputation and the country and economy. As the government has so easily said that the licences of pilots are dubious, it is not possible for anyone to issue a fake license as there are many steps involved in becoming a pilot. Now even if the government solves this problem, there will still be doubts about our pilots; the image will not fade away so easily. The truth is that we have been exposed to counterfeiting all over the world, no matter how much more we need to explain in order to restore the image of the pilots. In past, not only fake degrees of MNAs, MPAs came to our notice, but people holding so many important positions in the government have been proving with dubious credentials. Now the government itself is revealing that hundreds of pilots have fake degrees. There are many who have fake degrees in every major government institution. Therefore, it should be checked not only in PIA but also across the board. Our entire education system has already been destroyed; the health sector is in dilapidated that patients do not have access to ventilators. On the other hand, Covid-19 and locusts have destroyed our economy and agriculture, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty.
Therefore, the government should take every step and every decision with foresight so that it does not get into more problems which we cannot afford further. It was possible to solve the issue of pilots with understanding and prudence, but unnecessary haste was used to discredit the PIA. Not only that, there is no room for economic harm to Pakistan, therefore, the federal government should take the issue of dubious licenses seriously and take stern action against those who issued bogus licences and also caused disgrace to the country. Before publishing the inquiry report, the government should have thoroughly investigated the licences and fake credentials first at the departmental level.