Ministers of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday defended the government's decision to make public the inquiry into ‘dubious licences’ issued to pilots by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in the aftermath of an investigation into a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash in Karachi.
Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad alongside Information Minister Shibli Faraz and PM's aide Shahzad Akbar, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi said when the PTI government came into power, it discovered some "irregularities" in the CAA.
"We verified the charges and immediately 54 people were grounded and a detailed forensic inquiry was initiated under wraps of the whole organisation," he said.
He said that the inquiry found that a new licensing system was introduced in 2010. Out of all the licenses granted till 2018, the inquiry found that there were 236 which had irregularities, he said, adding that the pilots were then grounded and suspended.
He reiterated that all those pilots that had irregularities in their records have been grounded.
"Our target is safety first. We will prioritise safety so that all the question marks that have been raised can be addressed."
He added that the CAA is now taking steps to strengthen its IT systems, adding that those officials found guilty of being involved have been suspended pending an investigation.
"Everyone involved will be taken to task. By the time this inquiry is finished, which will be in a few months, the CAA will become the top authority when it comes to safety and PIA will become one of the region's top airlines," he said, adding that this was inevitable once all the "bad eggs" were removed from the system.
Defending the government's decision to make the information public, the minister said that the current government was "of the people".
"This is an issue of safety and about improving institutions. When you take the public on board, you change public perception.
"I will give you a simple example. When parents see their child being administered an injection, they feel pain but they know that it is necessary for their child's future. So, this is necessary for our future [...] we have to bear the pain so that we can see an improvement."
Meanwhile, the information minister attempted to assuage public concern, saying that all pilots currently flying airplanes have successfully gone through the scrutiny process.
"Anyone travelling right now should know that pilots flying right now have gone through the scrutiny process [...] they shouldn't worry."