ISLAMABAD  - In an unprecedented move, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has notified the promotions of a record number of 350 officers, the highest number ever in the history of Pakistan’s commercial aviation regulator.
The said officers were awaiting promotions for the last many years. Of the promoted officers, 35 are performing duties at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) Islamabad.
Recommended earlier this year, the promotions, which have recently been notified by the Director General CAA Air Marshal (Retd) Muhammad Yousaf, have been given with effect from January 1, 2014 to the officers from Pay Group (PG) seven to nine that respectively include the ranks of superintendents, assistant managers, deputy managers and corporate managers. These officers were performing duties in different branches of the CAA including Human Resource (HR), Air Traffic Services (ATS), Airport Services (APS), Electronics and Civil Maintenance and Electrical (CMA).
Talking to The Nation, the CAA Spokesman at BBIA Mubarik Shah confirmed that the number of the prompted officers was highest ever. “These officers were awaiting due promotions for the past many years. Never did such a huge number of officers in the CAA get promotions at a time,” he said.
The cases of senior CAA officers for promotions from PG nine to 10 (corporate manager to general manager) would be taken up in the ongoing year, the spokesman said.
“Under the incumbent CAA management headed by the DG, preference is being given to merit-based promotions to make sure that deserving officers are not overlooked or ignored and get their due share,” he added.  
A source in the Aviation Division, requesting anonymity, stated that the separation of the CAA from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had paved the way for the promotions of the deserving officers. “These promotions should have been granted many years ago but this could not happen because of the excessively bureaucratic influence of the Defence Ministry over CAA,” the official said adding that the ministry was habitually interfering in the CAA matters including the routine transfers and postings and the promotions of officers while misusing certain provisions of the CAA Ordinance 1982.
Also known as Presidential Ordinance, the CAA Ordinance 1982 originally envisaged the functioning of CAA as an independent and autonomous body separate of the MoD. Later, however, the top bureaucrats at the MoD allegedly got the ordinance amended with the inclusion of the Section 4 in the said ordinance, which, allegedly, opened the ‘floodgates’ for nepotism, favouritism and corruption. The said section allegedly allowed the Defence Ministry an unprecedented level of interference in the CAA affairs on the pretext of dealing with ‘policy matters.’
Section 4 states, “Power of the federal government to issue directives: The Federal Government may, as and when it considers necessary, issue directives to the authority, and if a question arises whether any matter is a matter of policy or not, the decision of the federal government shall be final.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered the formation of a separate Aviation Division independent of the MoD in June last year. The Aviation Division comprises of CAA, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Airport Security Force (ASF) and Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD). The PIA and CAA personnel unions had issued statements to welcome the PM’s initiative.
In December 2010, the CAA promoted eight senior most corporate managers (PG nine) to the rank of general manager but the Defence Ministry cancelled and nullified these promotions, which prompted these officers to move the Sindh High court.
Meanwhile, the DG CAA has congratulated the newly promoted 350 officers. According to a statement, he emphasised the need to work hard for the organisation and meet the international standards at the airports.