Pilots affair – Dumping blame when innocence matters


Lo and behold! What a surprise? The cat is out of the bag, ultimately DG CAA ( actually he is acting DG holding additional charge being secretary aviation) in response to DG of Civil Aviation Regulation of Oman that all CPL and ATPL licenses issued by CAA are genuine and validly issued. Out of 104 names that were received from CAA’s and different airlines from all over the world 96 have been verified as correct licenses. The minister for aviation while speaking at the floor of the house made tall false accusations against his own department and said 262 pilots have been grounded having fake and dubious licenses. This is what happens when you put wrong people on key appointments. CAA is a highly technical department and has been without DG since 2018 for which there was no justification, secondly giving additional charge of DG CAA to Secretary Aviation was against the rules and fell in the conflict of interest
You cannot employ a dental surgeon to carry out heart surgery. Technical matters can only be handled by technical persons, mechanical engineer cannot be entrusted with IT assignment, but in Pakistan we continue to flout laws of land without any fear of accountability. Aviation field is highly technical and specialised and can only be handled by experienced people. I have been maintaining and insisting that CAA can not issue fake license to anyone as the procedure is lengthy very transparent and fool proof that becomes next to impossible to forge any documents. Let us assume a fake license is issued it will be of no use to any one because commandeering a plane requires extensive training hours that is properly logged. It is not like driving a car with fake driving license. There is a set procedure of issuing pilot licenses which is renewed after every six months and each pilot has to clear all the stages. It is not that simple you go and pay some money under the table and get the renewal stamp and get license extended.Before renewal a pilot has to go through a refresher course, medical test, simulator, Cockpit Resource Management(CRM), and DGR( Dangerous Goods Regulations). Everything is computerised and there is no question of any manipulation. Secretary Aviation and acting DG CAA should have given correct picture after verification to minister before his address in the house, he is equally responsible for causing extensive damage to PIA, CAA and the country as a whole and putting Prime Minister in most embarrassing position internationally.Most hit are the pilots who have given their life time in making PIA one of the top air line of the world. How they will be compensated of this great humiliation? Who is responsible for their removal from jobs?apart from this the country has been deprived of legitimate foreign exchange.The country as a whole got bad name .US Federal Aviation Administration announced on Wednesday that Pakistan has been assigned category 2 rating because it does not comply with the ICAO safety standards under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment Program. This is result of reckless and irresponsible statement made by the minister in the house. It is strange that PM has not shown any remorse on this incident that has tarnished the image of country internationally.Some heads should have rolled by now, but in Pakistan accountability system is unique in nature it starts with sensationalism and ends the same way.
Is it the right way to implement government agenda to carry out reforms in Aviation, defaming on department and disgracing pilots in the entire world, when PIA has otherwise become burden on the nation we gladly announce that we are corrupt so much so we endanger the life of travellers by issuing fake licenses. In the mad race to throw dust on other political parties and defame them turned against the government instead scoring a point brought great damage to country that will hound us for years. Till 2013 aviation related departments PIA, CAA, ASF and Metrological department was under Ministry of Defence, Secretary Defence used to be in charge. How come they all were ignorant about fake degrees and bogus licenses? Likewise why Secretary Aviations did not bother to go into this matter. It was collective failure on their part and no point in blaming any individual. Careful study reveals that it was only shortage of aircrafts that resulted in the downfall of PIA, secondly we sold all lucrative routes to foreign airlines. It is a long story. In 2013 when former prime minister Nawaz Sharif created Aviation Division he appointed his close friend as Special Assistant on Aviation who destroyed both PIA and CAA and introduced new aviation policy that revolved around his personal interest. The unique feature of this policy has been the stake holders who contributed billions of rupees were never consulted. If we carry out audit from 2012 to 2018 the chalk will be separated from cheese. It is so strange that former CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s. decision on a constitutional petition in 2013 in which appointment of DG CAA Air Marshal Khalid Chaudhry was declared null and void with certain directions but no further action was taken on his recommendations. We had second aviation policy in 2018 that was comparatively much better in a way that all stake holders were taken on board and their recommendation were also considered and incorporated in the new policy. But then wisdom prevailed the PTI government did not appoint new DG CAA and wrongfully gave additional charge to Secretary Aviation resulting in extensive damage to CAA and the result is before us PIA stands banned in EU, US and other countries. In the absence of DG CAA it has always been the responsibility of Deputy DG CAA to officiate who is always a serving Air Vice Marshal but as of typical Pakistan culture rules were violated that ultimately did lot of damage to CAA. It is strange that flying fiasco is still not being taken seriously and time is being wasted on fixing salary and perks of CEO of PIA. Our fresh letters, statements, clarifications being given that licenses of pilots were valid and genuine will take some time but the damage caused to the country will take years to wipe out the black mark. Prime Minister should order an immediate inquiry as to fix the responsibility who provided wrong data to minister as they get information through their secretaries. It should also be seen was it a conspiracy against the Government especially against Prime Minister who is trying hard to improve upon the image of Pakistan and was doing well but with this one blunder apparently that appears to be a deliberate act therefore the people behind this must be exposed and given deterrent punishment
Lastly, we have to distinguish between being sensible and being right. The difference stands out in consequences and for policy makers at the national level not to hold the national interests paramount and in great esteem is very damaging for the future of this country. Hopefully, technically sound advice will become an essentiality for non technical ministers taking decisions that has huge ramifications for the country.