ISLAMABAD - The government, on Wednesday, assured the Senate that not only a transparent inquiry would be conducted into the recent PIA air crash in Karachi but also responsibility would be fixed along with making public the report of inquiry.

Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan made these remarks in the house after the opposition demanded reconstitution of the inquiry board to probe the air crash that claimed lives of all but two passengers on board.

Responding to a call attention notice, the minister also rejected the claim of the major opposition parties in the house that inquiry board could not hold an independent investigation to ascertain the cases of plane crash because officers of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had been included in it while Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PIA Air Marshal Arshad Malik was also an officer of air force and all members of the board were junior to him.

On May 22, a PIA A320 plane crashed in a densely neighborhood of Karachi. The aviation minister said that PAF was a credible institution and relatively better professionals work there and the government had trust in it as well as in CEO PIA. “I assure you that a free, fair and transparent investigation will be held into the crash incident,” he said adding that the government had invited the international pilots association to nominate their two representatives, a ground technician and a pilot, to become part of the inquiry board.  He said that the engineers of the Airbus, the officials of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of France and the company that manufactured engines of planes were also part of the investigations.

Sarwar Khan informed the house that 12 major air crashes had occurred in the country including five in recent years but no inquiry report had been made public ever. “The government will make public the inquiry report on June 22 in both the houses of the parliament, “he said adding that they wanted to make public inquiry reports of all previous crashes in country’s history.

About a letter of CAA holding responsible the pilot of ill-fated plane for the crash, the minister said that an explanation had been sought from the authority. About enforcement of Essential Services Act in PIA, the minister defended the decision and said that CBA unions had been unnecessarily affecting decision making process in the airline which was unfortunate. He assured the house that the government would reform the state operator by delisting it from the privatization list. He said that the government was going to conduct an exercise for screening of pilots and to check safety standards for the airline.

Earlier, opposition lawmakers slammed the CEO PIA for instantly holding the pilot responsible for the crash, even before commencement of an inquiry. Speaking on his call attention notice on the air crash, former chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani said the federal government had formed the inquiry commission which showed that conflict of interest was allegedly involved in it. He pointed out that all the members of the commission were from the PAF and were junior in rank to the PIA’s CEO. He said none of them was aware of commercial flying and its procedures while the commission was devoid of any rated pilot.

Rabbani said the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that would be under scrutiny itself was represented in the commission. He said that CAA had written a letter to the PIA claiming that the pilot did not follow the instructions given to him and thus authority had superseded the inquiry commission by making a judgement. He rejected the enforcement of essential services in PIA what he said that a step had been taken under the garb of COVID-19 outbreak.