London/Dubai/Hanoi – Pakistan is facing tremendous embarrassment after the exposure that Pakistani pilots are flying with fake licences. The United Kingdom, European Union (EU), UAE and Vietnam have cancelled all flights of the Pakistani airline, PIA. At the same time, these countries have cancelled the licenses of the Pakistani pilots. Infuriated Pakistani media have lashed out at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran, given the humiliation faced by Pakistan, around the world. 97 people were killed when a passenger airliner crashed in the city of Karachi on 22nd May. Startling revelations surfaced during the investigation into the crash. It was exposed that the captain was discussing Coronavirus with his co-pilot while the flight was airborne. While presenting the information about the crash in the Pakistan parliament, the Pakistani minister made a stunning revelation. The Pakistani minister announced that 230 of the 650 pilots, serving in Pakistan’s national carrier, PIA, have fake licenses. Repercussions of the suicidal statement made by the Pakistan minister were heard from the world over in the next few hours.
The Aviation Safety Agency of the EU barred entry of the PIA flights into the European airspace, underlining the issue of fake licenses. The EU announced that PIA flights have been banned for a period of six months for the safety of the European countries. The EU decision will severely affect the Pakistani airline. The Coronavirus has already disrupted the Pakistani airline services. Now, with this EU decision, Pakistan may either have to suspend flights to Europe and also flights to the United States and Canada, via Europe or take a longer route. Pakistan is concerned that this will create an additional financial burden on the PIA.
The EU ban on PIA is temporary. But the United Kingdom has announced that an indefinite ban on Pakistani flights to the cities of London, Manchester and Birmingham has been imposed. Whereas, UAE, which refused permission to Pakistani airliners, against the background of the Coronavirus pandemic, has taken another major decision. UAE has ordered inquiries into the pilots and engineers working in UAE. There is a dense possibility that the other countries in the Middle East will follow suit. In that scenario, the Middle East border also may close for the Pakistani airlines. South-East Asian countries have dismissed pilots of Pakistani origin from service. At the same time, they have ordered inquiries regarding the concerned engineers and pilots.
Infuriated Pakistani journalists are asking ‘What was the need for the Pakistan minister to disclose the details regarding fake licenses?’ With this, Pakistan will have to bear losses worth billions of dollars, and more importantly, Pakistan has faced major embarrassment in the world. The Pakistani journalists expressed regrets that it will take months to recover from this. They have raised a vexed question ‘How long will this Imran Khan government keep disgracing Pakistan?’