ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Peoples’ Party Vice President Sherry Rehman yesterday said the statements of the Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) were contradictory.

The parliamentary leader of the PPP in the Senate said her party had demanded resignations from both civil aviation officials and the Aviation Minister.

“We have all done it when it was needed. The nation will respect the Minister for admitting his fault and resigning,” she remarked. Speaking to journalists here, Senator Sherry Rehman said after two hours of solid questioning, the CAA and the Aviation Minister statements were still not matching.

“It is alarming that no one is taking responsibility for anything while PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) remains grounded. No one could tell us how many licenses were issued and from where. The Aviation Minister is adamant that he did the right thing, while we have been telling them that this issue needs to be resolved tactfully. Why was this done publicly,” she said.

Commenting on the fake degree scandal, the Senator said:  “There is no certainty if the licenses are fake or genuine as they have been making contradictory statements since day one. Today, we do not even know who is actually investigating this issue. It is shocking that no one is ready to take responsibility.

For the last 15 months, we were requesting the federal government to scrutinize all of this but the federal government conveniently disregarded our concerns.”

She said the government is giving the wrong impression that the Minister has satisfied the committee. “When in fact the entire Civil Aviation division and the Aviation Minister were not able to satisfy anyone nor could they match their statements,” she added.

Sherry Rehman said after Senate aviation committee meeting “I don’t see any hope from them. I don’t think they can stabilize PIA. Who is responsible for our pilots and PIA’s downgrading? Do they have any action plan? We have not been given any clarification. Even we knew there is an issue which needs to be resolved but what did they do instead? Nothing.” She said instead of investigating the issue first, the Minister gave a statement and then said that we will investigate.  “This has led to sheer embarrassment for the country. PIA is our national flag carrier and should not have been treated in this manner. Pakistan’s image has been tarnished,” the Senator added.

Highlighting the Roosevelt Hotel issue, she said the explanation offered for the sale of the Roosevelt Hotel is flimsy and pointless. “The claim in committee is that the sale of a profitable hotel was “only made after COVID-19 onset, in anticipation of reduced business and profits. Whereas, the task force to sell it was made in 2019,” she added.

She said after very recent public furor this notorious task force was de-notified and the relevant Aviation Ministry was actually included.

“No contradiction has come from any quarter about alleged interest of developers in the Trump family and non-official people and assorted advisors in the federal Government. The Aviation Minister claimed feebly that no such plan was on the anvil,” she said.

The PPP leader said this was not the time to sell Roosevelt Hotel New York, when due to pandemic property prices have come down significantly and it will result in a loss to Pakistan as we won’t get the right price. 

“This hotel carries cultural significance for Pakistan and we will not let it go like this. This is not the time to sell Roosevelt Hotel New York, when due to pandemic property prices have come down significantly and it will result in a loss to Pakistan as we won’t get the right price,” she said.