RAWALPINDI: A Senate committee has directed the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to restore 82 pilots, who were suspended over alleged unfair practices during their licensing exams.

The aviation regulator has been ordered to implement the decision within 15 days and furnish a report.

A meeting of the Senate Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges was held on Tuesday in Parliament House.

The meeting, chaired by Senator Mohammad Tahir Bizenjo, was told that the CAA director general gave ‘false assurances’ to a Senate sub-committee, obs­tructed members in the discharge of their duties and didn’t implement the house decisions.

The sub-committee of the Standing Committee on Aviation, headed by Sen­ator Saleem Mandvi­wala, was formed to look into the pilots’ licensing issues.

During the sub-committee’s meeting in May, the CAA DG said there were issues concerning the licences of 262 pilots, which caused problems at the international level. Following an investigation, 180 pilots were cleared, while the remaining 82 faced issues. Of them, the licences of 50 were cancelled on the federal cabinet’s directive, and 32 pilots were suspended.

The issue stemmed from the former aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan’s statement in the National Assembly in June 2020, where he claimed that investigations found that more than 260 of the country’s 860 active pilots had either fake licences or cheated in their exams.

On Tuesday, Senator Mandviwala, a member of the privileges committee, told the meeting that the sub-committee was overseeing the resolution of the licensing issue.

Despite assurances given in the meetings, the CAA DG is “hesitant” in implementing the sub-committee’s.

The committee issued directives to the CAA and deferred the matter for two weeks.

The privileges committee was also briefed on the motion, moved by Senators Naseebullah Bazai and Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen, against the National Bank of Pakistan president for not attending the meeting scheduled to be held in the bank’s Karachi office despite being present in the same building.

Rehmat Hasnie, the NBP president, who also attended the meeting, submitted a written apology for his misconduct which was accepted by the committee.

Further deliberation on the matter was deferred until the next meeting.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2023

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