Pakistan opposition leader Khan unveils plan for elections

In this file photo, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan waves to supporters upon arrival in Karachi on May 10, 2009. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP)
Updated 09 July 2018

Pakistan opposition leader Khan unveils plan for elections

  • Imran Khan promises 10 million new jobs, better health and education facilities if he wins the July 25 vote
  • Analysts say Pakistan will likely have a coalition government after the elections, as no single political party is expected to get a two-third majority in parliament

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s opposition leader and former cricket star who has set his hopes on becoming the country’s next prime minister unveiled Monday his party’s ‘manifesto’ ahead of this month’s parliamentary elections.
Imran Khan is promising 10 million new jobs, better health and education facilities if he wins the July 25 vote. Titled “Road to New Pakistan,” the manifesto is similar to other ambitious past pledges by political parties that ended up unable to make good on them.
But Khan told reporters in Islamabad he was only making commitments that he believes can be implemented — including tackling the widespread poverty by turning Pakistan into an Islamic welfare state.
“An easy solution to the problems that Pakistan is faced with does not exist,” he said.
Khan also used the venue to criticize former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was sentenced last week in absentia by an anti-graft tribunal to 10 years in prison over purchases of luxury apartments in London.
Sharif, who is in London with his ailing wife, has promised to return to Pakistan.
Khan asserted that Sharif indulged in corruption and promised to ensure justice for all and improve the country’s ailing economy.
The same court that sentenced Sharif also sentenced his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, to seven years in absentia in a case stemming from documents leaked from a Panama law firm. Her husband, Mohammad Safdar, was sentenced to one year for giving false information to investigators.
Safdar, who was formally arrested on Sunday, was sent to prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Monday.
Analysts say Pakistan will likely have a coalition government after the elections, as no single political party is expected to get a two-third majority in parliament. Any party that gets a simple majority in the 351-seat house can form the government.


EU safety agency suspends Pakistani airlines’ European authorization

Updated 01 July 2020

EU safety agency suspends Pakistani airlines’ European authorization

  • The step has been taken due to concerns about the country’s ability to ensure compliance with international aviation standards
  • PIA expects the ‘earliest possible’ lifting of suspension after action by the government and the airline

ISLAMABAD: The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) authorization to fly to the bloc for six months, the airline said on Tuesday, in a major blow to the country’s flag carrier.
Separately, the safety agency said it took the action due to concerns about the country’s ability to ensure compliance with international aviation standards at all times.
The suspension follows Pakistan’s grounding of 262 of the country’s 860 pilots — including 141 of PIA’s 434 — whose licenses the aviation minister termed “dubious.”
“EASA has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorization to operate to the EU member states for a period of six months effective July 1, 2020 with the right to appeal,” PIA said in a statement. It added it would temporarily discontinue all its flights to Europe.
Confirming the move in an emailed statement, the EASA referred to a recent investigation by Pakistan which it said showed a “large share” of pilot licenses to be invalid.
Pakistan’s grounding of the pilots followed a preliminary report on a PIA crash in Karachi that killed 97 people last month.
PIA said it is in contact with the EASA to take corrective measures and appeal against the decision, adding that it expected the “earliest possible” lifting of the suspension after action by the government and the airline.
The EASA also suspended the authorization of another Pakistani airline, Vision Air International.
Vision Air International did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Following the EASA’s decision, the UK Civil Aviation Authority said it, too, was withdrawing PIA’s permit to operate from three of its airports, as required under law.
“PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports are suspended with immediate effect,” a spokesman for the UK authority told Reuters.
The three were major flying destinations for the airline.
Meanwhile, Pakistani pilots and their union, the Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA), say there are discrepancies in the government’s list of pilots with licenses deemed dubious and are demanding a judicial investigation.
PIA and private airline Air Blue have also queried the list with PIA saying 36 of its pilots mentioned had either retired or left the airline, while Air Blue said it no longer employed seven of nine pilots on the list.
“It contains names of highly educated and qualified pilots who have passed all the tests,” PALPA’s president, Chaudhry Salman, told Reuters. “We want a fair and impartial resolution to this matter.”
An official at Pakistan’s aviation ministry, Abdul Sattar Khokhar, said they did not have full details of the discrepancies. “The issue is being sorted out in consultation with airlines and civil aviation authorities.”