ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Airline Pilots' Association (Palpa) rejected on Wednesday earlier reports that Pakistan International Airlines captain Faisal Younis was appointed on fake educational certificates, insisting that pilot is certainly qualified to fly jets.
Earlier, it was disclosed at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) during the scrutiny of an audit report on the aviation division that Faisal had fake degrees.
Initially, Secretary Aviation Division Mohammad Ali Gardezi and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Managing Director Shahnawaz Rehman expressed ignorance about Faisal’s relations. But after the PAC quizzed and directed them to produce complete details, Gardezi informed the committee that Faisal was the younger brother of Waqar Younis, the former captain of Pakistan cricket team and its incumbent head coach.
“Younis is a victim of his association with Waqar Younis and it is wrong to say his degree is not genuine,” Papla President Captain Amir Hashmi said.
"People need to understand that pilots are not different from doctors or engineers who have a basic academic qualification of FSC or intermediate. What follows after that is professional training," the association’s president told The Express Tribune. Captain Faisal wasn't able to clear only one paper in his FSC examination before he joined PIA, he added.
"It is really an exaggeration to say that he had a fake degree."
Later, Captain Faisal went on to complete Bachelors in Commerce (B.Com) to qualify for induction. But when it was found that he hadn't cleared one of the papers, the airline management demoted him.
"He has already paid a heavy price. He was supposed to be third person in his batch to clear the training process but was demoted to 23rd as punishment," Hashmi said. "That was the last rank."
Earlier, it was reported that PIA inducted Faisal as a cadet pilot on November 13, 2003, on a five-year contract. During the verification of his educational record after three years of appointment, it was revealed that his graduation degree was allegedly bogus. The audit report claimed that in 2010, Faisal was penalised by curtailing his three years’ seniority.
In the meanwhile, Faisal produced a diploma in commerce, claiming that it was equivalent to the graduation degree. The audit report maintained that instead of dismissing the pilot, the PIA management allowed him to work in the national flag carrier.
Internationally, the Commercial Pilot License is considered to be a qualification equivalent to bachelor’s degree. Whereas, the Airline Transport Pilot License is as good as master’s degree, he further said.
The Palpa president also dismissed the reports saying that thrashing pilots makes for a good publicity stunt.
"I guess a pilot being bashed like this makes for a good news story. But what about the other 1,500 PIA employees who actually have been given jobs with fake degrees?"
After CPL, every junior pilot has to go through a rigorous training to accumulate at least 1,500 flying hours, including experience to command the aircraft at night.
Besides the theory and practical tests, pilots also have to go through proficiency tests every six months when their mental and physical fitness is assessed.
Hashmi wondered why politicians were not questioning political appointments in PIA.
"People are being hired on vague positions like director vigilance but no one seems to be bothered about that."
Earlier, both the secretary aviation and the PIA managing director were defending the appointment, saying the PIA had invested a huge amount on Faisal’s training and inducted him as a pilot for Boeing 777.
Read: Shedding losses: PAC partially endorses PIA privatisation plan
“It is not the Daewoo bus, the commercial pilot should be educated enough to read the instructions on sophisticated gadgets,” said Junaid Anwar Chaudhry, a PAC member.
The secretary aviation replied that initially the qualification for the commercial pilot was matriculation with a commercial pilot licence (CPL), adding Faisal had submitted his CPL at the time of his induction.
Till this time, the relationship of Faisal was not disclosed and most of the mediapersons covering the PAC proceedings were waiting to know who he was. Some reporters were making speculations that he might be the son of a former PIA managing director.
“Who is Faisal Younis,” asked Mehmood Khan Achakzai. The PIA administration expressed ignorance about the identity of Faisal. The secretary replied: “We don’t know much about him or his family background.”
“We want to know his relations, his background, where he was born, his domicile and who inducted him in the PIA on bogus documents,” Achakzai added.
“He is the brother of cricketer Waqar Younis,” the secretary aviation broke the silence.
“He could be adjusted in any other organisation but it is not acceptable that despite knowing that he possessed a bogus degree he was accommodated in the PIA,” Achakzai added.
“How much did the PIA invested on his training,” asked Junaid Anwar Chaudhry.
The PIA spends about $35000 on the initial training, the secretary aviation replied.
PAC chairman Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah directed the PIA administration to provide a complete record of the pilot.
“If you don’t have details about him right now, we can delay the scrutiny of this para till the next meeting,” he said.
The PIA MD informed the committee that they had removed 260 employees for having fake degrees and were verifying the degrees of the remaining employees.
Read: Punitive action: PIA fires 260 employees over forged degrees
PAC member Sardar Ashiq Gopang said when a politician could face the registration of a criminal case for a bogus degree, why the PIA administration did not register FIRs against the fake degree holders, including Faisal.
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