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ISLAMABAD: Completely unmoved with the recent embarrassing saga of the national flag carrier, the government on Thursday said that 236 pilots - having 'dubious' licenses - have been grounded and there would be no compromise in overhauling the loss-making making Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

Speaking at a presser here, the minister for information Shibli Faraz along with minister for port and shipping Ali Zaidi and PM's aide on accountability Shahzad Akbar, said that all the people possessing fake licenses were inducted form 2010 to 2010 - during the governments of PPP and PML-N.

"Not a single pilot was inducted during PTI government. 236 pilots have been grounded and the day is not far when the PIA will be one of the top airline industries of the world," said Zaidi.

He defended government's decision to make the public the inquiry into 'dubious licences' issued to pilots by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in wake of an investigation into a PIA plane crash in Karachi.

"After coming into power, we discovered some "irregularities" in CAA. We verified the charges and immediately 54 people were grounded and a detailed forensic inquiry was initiated under wraps of the whole organisation," Zaidi said.

He said that the inquiry found that a new licensing system was introduced in 2010 when PPP was in power. Out of all the licenses granted till 2018, the inquiry found that there were 236 which had irregularities, he said, adding that the pilots were then grounded and suspended.

He reiterated that all those pilots that had irregularities in their records have been grounded, adding our target is safety first and "we will prioritise safety so that all the question marks that have been raised can be addressed".

He added that the CAA is now taking steps to strengthen its IT systems, adding that those officials found guilty of being involved have been suspended pending an investigation.

"Everyone involved will be taken to task. By the time this inquiry is finished, which will be in a few months, the CAA will become the top authority when it comes to safety and PIA will become one of the region's top airlines," he said, adding that this was inevitable once all the "bad eggs" were removed from the system.

Defending the government's decision to make the information public, the minister said that the current government was "of the people by the people and for the people".

"This is an issue of safety and about improving institutions. When you take the public on board, you change public perception.

"I will give you a simple example. When parents see their child being administered an injection, they feel pain but they know that it is necessary for their child's future. So, this is necessary for our future [...] we have to bear the pain so that we can see an improvement."

Zaidi went on to say that 'when the rotten eggs will be thrown out, everything will be alright, adding that, "to google search and there you will get to know how many people related to PML-N leader Senator Mushahidullah Khan were handpicked during their government from 2013 to 2018".

The information minister attempted to assuage public concern, saying that all pilots currently flying airplanes have successfully gone through the scrutiny process.

"All the pilots, currently operating PIA flights, are hundred percent clean and clear to fly planes after passing through a complete scrutiny," he declared.

The information minister said that the government is making all-out efforts to restore the glory of the national flag carrier.

He regretted over the irreparable loss inflicted on PIA by the past two governments of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020