Pakistan opposition rally clashes with police, dozens hurt

Supporters of Pakistani opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif scuffle with police officers outside an anti-graft tribunal, in Lahore, Pakistan, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2018

Pakistan opposition rally clashes with police, dozens hurt

  • The violence erupted when police used batons to prevent Shahbaz Sharif’s supporters from reaching an anti-graft tribunal where he appeared to face a pre-trial hearing
  • Police say they prevented demonstrators from trying to storm the court

LAHORE: Pakistani officials say supporters of the country’s opposition leader, Shahbaz Sharif, have clashed with police in the eastern city of Lahore, leaving dozens of protesters hurt.
Thursday’s violence erupted when riot police used batons to prevent Sharif’s supporters from reaching an anti-graft tribunal where he appeared to face a pre-trial hearing over alleged links to a multi-million dollars housing scam.
Maryam Aurangzeb, a spokeswoman for Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party, says police beat the party’s supporters without any provocation.
Police say they prevented demonstrators from trying to storm the court.
Sharif, the opposition leader in parliament, has been held in custody by the National Accountability Bureau since October. He is accused of influencing authorities to award contracts for a housing program to a company with which he had political connections.


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.”