I am shocked at how easily the Minister for Aviation has said that 262 out of approximately 860 pilots have fake licenses.

There are pilots in the published list who have died, some retired after almost 40 years of service, some have not even appeared for exams and their names are in the list. Most of the remaining have their transcripts with them showing legitimacy of their written exams.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning a cheater, whosoever is proven and found guilty should be punished for the crime committed by her/him. The question here, is what about all those pilots who have been wrongly accused? What happens to them? The Minister cannot just apologise and blame the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) for misinforming him.

After the Minister’s initial press conference, local and international media caught up with this news and were having a field day at the expense of my beloved, Pakistan. Perhaps, he had no idea what repercussions his careless remarks will have on Pakistan’s aviation industry. Because of this, there will be restrictions imposed on our airlines and the possibility of PCAA being downgraded. Our pilots and engineers who are working with foreign airlines might be questioned about the veracity of their licenses.

The government must take this opportunity to provide accurate information, and assure them that the matter is to be investigated on priority bases, and those found guilty will be punished severely. The pilots under suspicion will not be utilised until the final outcome of the investigation. It’s time we start moving towards long-term, long-lasting solutions instead of excuses.