Pakistani PM Imran Khan speaks during a meeting with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on 22 July 2019 | Michael Reynolds | Bloomberg
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No good can ever come out of Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan.

No, the latest causality is not ‘shaheed’ Osama bin Laden or the rumours of the prime minister being side-lined, or even the infighting between the cabinet ministers. It’s the government’s own self-destructing revelation regarding the national carriers and their pilots. One bright afternoon, aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan took the national assembly floor to tell the nation that almost 40 per cent of pilots in Pakistan have fake licenses—they were not qualified to fly—but were still flying. Khan said that the 262 pilots had paid proxies to write exams on their behalf.

The aviation minister’s scandalous revelation caused a storm, both in Pakistan and abroad. The important disclosure came as a footnote to the government inquiry, which held the pilot and the air traffic control staff responsible for the 22 May Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash in Karachi that killed 97 people on-board.

Also read: As LAC stand-off continues, elated Pakistanis see national interest in Chinese interest

Govt report under scanner

Every statement has a consequence. After drawing international media attention on the issue, Sarwar’s “fake” licenses suddenly became “dubious” licenses. Turns out the list released with the names of the pilots with fake licenses was itself dubious—some on the list were dead, some had retired. There were other discrepancies regarding the total number of examination papers and employment details. The initial theory floated by the ministry appeared based on an improper investigation.

What can possibly explain the Imran Khan government’s urgency to share this information without completing its internal interrogation?

This is what happens when a government’s entire focus lies on shifting the blame, managing the image of the prime minister and trying to grab headlines. Considering this approach, it explains well why the Imran Khan government wants to claim credit for these revelations without even finalising the investigation report. For Pakistan Tareekh-e-Insaf (PTI), political rhetoric is the only solution, even if it comes at the cost of reforms. Not much can be expected from a minister who once infamously showed up at the airport with his wife’s passport and wanted to board a flight to Turkey. Not to forget the minister sahib’s troubles with his own fake degree.

Also read: Guess who the Imran Khan govt is blaming for Covid spike? The ‘jahil’ people of Pakistan

Pakistani pilots face the wrath world over

But the world doesn’t function the way Pakistan government does. The international aviation regulators such as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency have suspended PIA flight operations for six months from the EU, saying that Pakistan is not capable to certify and oversee its airline operators. This was followed by the UK as it withdrew PIA’s permit to operate from London, Birmingham and Manchester airports. Similarly, the aviation authority of the United Arab Emirates, in a letter, asked for the authentication of the licenses of 50 Pakistani pilots and chartered flight operation officers employed in its airlines. Vietnam earlier this week, grounded 11 active Pakistani pilots working in national airlines over fake license concerns.

If we listen to the aviation experts, this is just getting started. PIA shutting shop internationally is not a forgone conclusion, but there are fears that many Pakistani aviation professionals around the world might lose jobs even if their licenses have not been achieved through fraudulent means.

Also read: Balakot, blackout and IAF: When Pakistanis couldn’t stop the rumours Imran Khan had fueled

In Naya Pakistan, things work differently

To fend off his government’s criticism and come clean on the handling of the inquiry, PM Imran Khan says his detractors want him to bury the probe. While no one wants the fraud pilots to go scot-free, the government too can’t shrug off its responsibility for everything that’s going wrong under its nose.

Would Imran Khan not have asked for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation in Purana Pakistan, if a plane had crashed? Would he have not told him to leave office, giving him the example South Korean prime minister, who had resigned after a boat tragedy? But, things in Naya Pakistan work differently. Only pilots are accountable here.

Stay on the message of fighting cartels and mafias, but in reality do nothing—that’s how the PTI government dealt with the sugar mafia, who funnily remain part of the ruling dispensation.

As if international airlines such as Etihad Airways, Emirates and Flydubai temporarily disengaging with Pakistan due to the increase in Covid-19 cases wasn’t enough, the suspension of national carrier means that we in Pakistan are now Pakistan-bound in the foreseeable future. Remember when Imran Khan eagerly prayed that US President Donald Trump deny visas to Pakistanis so that they could focus on fixing their own country? Finally, Trump couldn’t do what Khan has done.

The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.

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  1. On fake pilots, in our neighbor more than 4000 pilots found with fake licenses!
    Please check India.
    We are trying to run fair democracy in Pakistan where the people are aware what is going around.
    It was a news for us as well, but it will be settled in good manners. Thanks

  2. This self proclaimed “writer’s” only aim is to defame PM Imran Khan, as do the comments that follow through their filthy minds and ignorance of historical facts. PM IK has the honesty n courage to disclose n act against the filthy n correct system that prevailed during PPP (led by benazir bhutto/zardari) n PMLN (led by nawaz sharif) since the 80s. Again PPP 2008-2013, n PMLN 2013-2018. sharif n daughter given jail sentences, two sons wanted but avoiding, sharif given leave for 8 weaks to seek medical treatment in London, but now hiding in London. Bro shehbaz shareef facing multiple cases. Son n son in law wanted in Pakistan, both hiding in London. Sharef Bro in law, his finance minister, wanted in Pakistan, hiding in London. zardari of PPP facing cases at present in Pakistan. System created: Everything controlled by mafias/cartels, now under investigation by PM IK. He is cleaning up the filthy corrupt system including the pilots. Obviously the beneficiaries of such filth will be most upset.

  3. Naila, you are a freelancer, means you have no license. Writers like you spread hatred against the right people and the system, so you do to Imran Khan and his Govt. I could write a book on your article, but I would say let Imran Khan Govt. clean the mess that previous Governments created and blotted Pakistan’s name in the world and you are supporting them instead of telling those God damn DNA born corrupt to answer their wrong doings. You have not done any exercise or home work for all what Imran Khan and his Govt. is trying to sanitize Pakistan from “CORRUPTOCOVID” of decades. Allah’s wrath is very near. Allah will destroy all the miscreants in Pakistan like He did with the nations of the Prophets. COVID-19 is not affecting or covering all of them yet, may be Pakistani nation is waiting for even bigger wrath from Allah, instead of repenting and cleaning themselves in the name of Allah, rather they feel safe and successful (SURKHUROO) even after committing all corruption. I pray for Imran Khan: May Allah be with him and destroy all negative elements from Pakistan and all around the world and let Pakistan be the “FORT” of Islam by hands of Imran Khan.

  4. Calling this “New” Pakistan is like calling a fat man ‘tiny’.. its s joke. We, who know what is going on, could tell a long time ago that this government was a fraud. Imran Khan is an actor, playing the main role in a tradgedy that would have a country on the rise, diminish to beggar status within 18 months. How can someone who has no experience in management and governance lead a socialist country.. where everything of value is owned and operated by the state. Gaining experience in governance takes time, yet Imran Khan had the worst record of attendance in the National Assembly. That may bode well for the people of Pakistan, it works out just fine for those pulling the strings. Its easier to manipulate and control someone with no substance than it is to actually deliver for the people. Pakistan’s best days are ahead.. if Democracy is allowed to function, we should see the 4th term of the only PM who may be, unlike Khan, terrible at making speeches.. but sure knows how to develp the country.

  5. This Taliban Imran Niazi is Pakistani version of Narendra Modi. His supporters and voters are abusive like Modi’s supporters, both carry tags ‘Proud Muslim’ in the bios and use abusive language for fellow Pakistanis who happen to be Muslims. Both issue the certificates of traitor, agents of India / Pakistan. In India the fascist Modi runs rogue Indian Army, in Pakistan, military and agencies run this puppet whose ministers are jokers and radicals.

    Like Modi’s supporters are called ‘bhakhts’ in India, Imroo Niazi’s supporters are called ‘Youthias’ (reference to Choouthya) in Pakistan. He is not even a Pathan, as he doesn’t speak Pashto. His parents were migrant from Indian Punjab. A boozy and alcoholic who spent his entire life engaging in un-Islamic lifestyle in London along with his different girlfriends. Used to beg in India in the name of charity for his cancer hospital, and now he is cursing same India from his Twitter profile. A curse for Pakistan.

  6. I am a big fan of PIA, as it is the only flight that goes Pakistan without stopping any where. I have always prayed for the best for IK govt and Pakistan. But this is pure negligence, the govt has a duty to the tax payers and is answerable to the people. This is not the Madina riyasat that I envisioned through PM IK promise.

  7. Naya Pakistan? Same as the old Pakistan I see. Corruption, nepotism etc. as old as the Garden of Eden. Man’s original sin. Welcome to the subcontinent. Hindu ya Mussalman, beimaani apna deen. La ilaha il allah….

  8. Not surprised
    मदरसे छाप फाइटर प्लेन पायलट्स

  9. Pakistan administrative systems are fully corrupt , Even their Alla cannot change that system, this problems not only for pilot licence but even in Medical field, Engineering,etc there are proxies to write the examination and give you certificate

  10. I have never seen such a hypocrite as this so called writer, I would like to ask this stupid woman were these licenses sold to these pilots with in last 2 years. Where their no air disasters before last 2 years. You can say that the government could have handled this better but they haven’t swiped it under carpet like previous governments of Nawaz league and mr 10% ,and that is this government’s greatest crime that they have not covered these crimes the way Nawaz league and ppp have been covering each other’s crimes. This pilots scandal in reality amounts to murder and people who were involved in this should be tried for murder instead of trying to hide their crimes

    • Pilots are required to renew licenses annually. So definitely all those who are being called fake receivers at least renewals while Imran was PM.
      Secondly, please check the leadership of those in CAA in charge of issuing the licence. They come from a particular idaara. No accountability for them?

      Finally which other Pakistani PM has done a surgical strike on its own institutions putting at risk livelihoods of hundreds of Pakistanis in well paying jobs?

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