While it was hoped that Imran Khan will bring much-needed peace and prosperity to Pakistan, the Khan administration due to its sheer incompetence has consistently delivered series of embarrassments, so much so that Pakistan has now become synonymous with embarrassment. Now, the United Nations has decided to restrict its officials from boarding any Pakistani plane including the national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) due to dubious flying licenses of Pakistani pilots.
In a move which yet again highlights the dire straits that Pakistan finds itself in, the United Nations has cautioned its staff from using any Pakistan-registered airline, even the PIA owing to concerns over the licenses of the country’s pilots.
It is pertinent to note that 30 per cent of Pakistani pilots have fake licenses – who passed the exam by paying someone to sit for the exam on their behalf.
“Due to an ongoing investigation of the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] Pakistan…due to dubious licences, caution is advised on the use of Pakistan-registered air operators,” read the advisory issued by the UN Security Management System (UNSMS).
Reportedly, the advisory has been recommended to the UN specialised agencies – World Health Organisation (WHO), UN High Commission for Refugees, UN Development Programme, Food and Agriculture Organisation, and others.
The advisory effectively means that no UN official working in Pakistan can travel by any Pakistan-registered airline, even within the country.
The country’s opposition parties, who over the past few months have increasingly cornered Imran Khan and his government, have sought the resignation of Khan and the Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan over the issue.
Pakistani Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz took to Twitter to state, “Pakistan is paying the price for this servile, historically unqualified and incompetent (government).”
She added, “Due to the way things were handled by these novices, the country is facing embarrassment the world over. First, the PIA pilots were humiliated around the world and now the airline has fallen to such a point. Pakistan never saw such days ever.”
In December 2020, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), contrary to the expectations of the Pakistani officials that the ban on PIA would be lifted, extended the ban on the national carrier by three months.
The EASA, which in July 2019 had suspended the authorisation for PIA to operate flights in the EU member states due to safety concerns, informed the airlines that the ban would only be lifted after a safety audit of the Civil Aviation Authority.
The root cause of the suspension was the dubious credentials of hundreds of Pakistani pilots and the UN advisory is just a follow up of the move by the EASA. While the UN advisory has brought huge disrepute to Pakistan, it is unlikely that the advisory will hit them financially as strong as the EASA’s suspension. The PIA has suffered a loss of billions of rupees ever since the suspension of flight operations to and from the EU and UK.