ISLAMABAD: The opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has rejected the team constituted by the federal government to probe Friday’s crash of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft near the Karachi airport and called for forming a new panel to hold investigations in an impartial manner.

Raising objections to the government’s investigation team, PPP MNA Dr Nafisa Shah in a statement on Saturday said the responsibility for any air accident was always on the shoulders of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and, therefore, it should have no representation in the investigation committee.

Hours after the tragic plane crash, a spokesman for the Aviation Division Abdul Sattar Khokhar announced that the federal government had constituted an investigation team to probe the incident.

He said that the investigation team would be headed by Air Commodore Muhammad Usman Ghani, President of the Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board.

Nafisa opposes CAA’s representation in the panel

Mr Ghani will be assisted by Wing Commander Malik Muhammad Imran, Additional Director of Technical Investigation; Group Captain Touqeer, Operations Investigator, Pakistan Air Force Safety Board, Kamra; and Mr Nasir Majeed, Joint Director of ATC Ops, AAIB.

The notification said the investigation team would exercise powers conferred under CAA Rules, 1994, and submit its report to the Aviation Division within the shortest possible time. However, a preliminary statement would be issued within a month from the date of the notification.

The PPP MNA in her statement demanded the government constitute an “impartial committee” so that facts should come before the nation.

“How can CAA officials hold investigations into the accident?” she asked.

Dr Shah indirectly sought Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resignation over the plane tragedy.

“Will those who used to give us examples of South Korea (where the prime minister had resigned over the government’s handling of a ferry sinking) will tender resignation?” she asked.

“Will the federal minister (for aviation), the chief executive officer of the PIA and other senior officials resign?” she further asked.

Dr Shah accused the government of imposing martial law in PIA and suppressing voices that had been raised from time to time for the betterment of the airline. She said that in the past Palpa (Pakistan Airlines’ Pilots Association), Peopels Unity, Society of Aircraft Engineers and associations of senior officers had been raising voices over affairs in the airlines. She “condemned” the alleged government’s policy of “discouraging” airline staff, instead of encouraging them.

Dr Shah regretted that reports of the previous crashes of Air Blue and Bhoja in Islamabad and PIA in Havelian had not been made public so far.

Meanwhile, in his separate statement, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif while expressing heartfelt condolences for victims of PK-8303 crash called for a thorough investigation of the Karachi plane crash so that such calamities could be avoided in future.

Mr Sharif said that Eidul Fitr would not be the same after such a tragic incident. He thanked God Almighty that the Punjab Forensic Science lab was helping in identification of victims of the tragedy.

He urged the government to compensate losses of those people whose homes had been destroyed in the calamity.

Palpa has also expressed its serious reservations over the abilities and past role of the Special Investigation Board (SIB), saying that to date no complete report of this board had been received.

It has demanded a thorough investigation into the crash by involving the association and international organisations. It has also suggested that in addition to the technical investigation into the aircraft’s health prior to the flight, investigators must consider the working conditions of the ground staff and flight crew.

It has called for involving bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organisation and International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations in the investigation.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2020