The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday reserved its verdict on whether or not to hear a petition seeking the removal of Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan from his post following his remarks in the National Assembly about almost 40% of the country's pilots holding “dubious licenses”.

The decision was reserved by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah on a petition filed by advocate Tariq Asad, who said in the petition that due to the aviation minister’s remarks, Pakistan's image had suffered internationally. . 

“Due to Ghulam Sarwar Khan’s remarks, PIA flights have been banned in Europe for six months. If someone’s degree was fake, the minister should have secretly taken action,” the petitioner stated. 

Asad added that due to the minister’s comment’s, the country has become a laughing stock in the world.

The chief justice said that a detailed judgment over the matter will be issued later. 

The minister, while presenting the preliminary report of the PIA plane crash, had told the House that 40% of pilots in the country were flying aircraft with fake licenses.

“Pakistan has 860 active pilots, which includes PIA, Serene Air, Air Blue. The inquiry which was initiated in February 2019 showed that 262 pilots did not give the exam themselves and asked someone else to give it on their behalf,” the minister said, adding that the pilots did not have the proper flying experience either.

Following the minister’s comments, PIA said it had grounded 150 pilots with "dubious licenses", stating that those pilots who get their licenses verified will be allowed back on duty.

The spokesperson for the national carrier had added they have already dismissed six pilots with fake degrees.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Tuesday suspended PIA's air operations permit for a period of six months, the national carrier's spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan said.

The suspension will take effect on July 1, at 12 noon UTC time, he said.

The EASA told PIA "it is still not sure" if all the remaining pilots are properly qualified, "and thus they have lost their confidence" in the airline, the spokesperson said.

"PIA is in constant contact with the agency," he said, adding: "We are taking steps to address their concerns."