Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Thursday said that a provisional investigation report on last week's plane crash, as well as previous crashes, will be made public by June 22 during the upcoming parliamentary sessions.
He made these remarks during a press conference in Islamabad, where he revealed that the prime minister met the inquiry board and directed them to conduct a thorough inquiry into the causes of the air crash.
A PIA plane — Airbus A-320 — carrying 99 people on board, had crashed into a residential area near Karachi airport last week, resulting in 97 casualties.
"There have been 12 plane crashes in our recent history, including the one last week. And when I briefed the prime minister on these accidents, he inquired as to why their investigative reports never come out on time," said Sarwar, adding that Prime Minister Imran's "main concern" right now is to ascertain the causes of these delays.
"As the aviation minister, I will, therefore, try my best to release a provisional investigation report during the parliamentary sessions by June 22," Sarwar said. He added that the said report will reveal not just the reasons for the recent crash in Karachi but will also "briefly" touch upon the reasons for the delay in the reports of previous air crashes.
He added that the forthcoming report will be "a free and fair" one because the members of the inquiry board were answerable to Allah.
The aviation minister also revealed that an 11-member team, comprising experts from Airbus and representatives from the French government and the engine manufacturers, had reached Karachi on May 26.
"They [the members of the team] are currently investigating the causes of the air crash. And they will share their findings with our inquiry board," Sarwar said.
Sarwar said that 51 dead bodies have been identified and handed over to the families until now and that the identification process will continue until all the results from the DNA tests have been received.
"It will take some time for all the bodies to be identified. But once that process is completed, we will hand over all the remaining dead bodies to the grieving families," he said.
Reiterating the government's support for the grieving families and of those residents who were directly affected by the crash, Sarwar said that he understands that monetary compensation isn't enough to recompense for the loss of the grieving families.
"We have announced that families of those who were killed would receive Rs1 million each while the two survivors would be given Rs500,000 each. But we know this isn't enough and therefore we will not rest until we have conducted a thorough inquiry into the crash," he said.
Sarwar said that the causes of the accident were a concern for the entire country and not just of those whose families had lost their loved ones.
"We are all deeply concerned as to why these crashes keep happening," he said.
The federal aviation minister also said that the government would offer compensation to the residents of the area whose houses were impacted by the crash.
"I met many aggrieved people on the ground when I visited the accident site," Sarwar said, as he announced that the government will start the rehabilitation process in the area once experts have concluded their estimates.
He paid tribute to the "passion and bravery" of the civilian volunteers who assisted the recovery operation on the day of the crash.
The aviation minister also urged people not to speculate on the causes of the air crash.
"I think the entire country should wait, be patient and wait for inquiry board to release their report."
Responding to a question on whether there was a technical fault that caused the accident, Sarwar requested TV anchors and journalists to refrain from discussing the technical aspects of the crash, saying that only the experts could answer their queries.
"Look, if there was a technical fault in the plane, it must have been recorded. In other words, we will find out one way or the other soon," Sarwar said.
"Voice and data records have been found. I believe one was found earlier today. French authorities will take these records back to France to decode them. There are technical questions that you or I can't answer. So we will wait for experts to tell us," he added.
Sarwar also said that the domestic flight operation has not been impacted in the aftermath of the accident.
"No, the domestic operation continues as usual. And PIA is also repatriating stranded overseas Pakistanis. In fact, we will soon increase the number of domestic flights," Sarwar concluded.