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The US has revoked the permission granted to the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate a number of special direct flights to America, a spokesperson for the flag carrier said here, as the fallout from the revelation of Pakistani pilots’ alleged dubious licences continues.

The authorisation was revoked “due to recent events identified by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority that are of serious concern to aviation safety, specifically matters pertaining to the proper certification of certain Pakistani pilots”, Dawn news quoted an email sent to PIA officials by a US-based law firm, as saying on Thursday.

PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan confirmed that the airline had been notified of the permission being withdrawn via email.

The US Department of Transportation had in April granted PIA permission to operate 12 direct flights to the US to repatriate people stranded by the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline had until now operated six of the flights to different US cities.

It was the first time that Pakistan’s national flag carrier operated direct flights to the US.

“It is a setback for us,” PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez told Dawn news.

“However we are keeping very close coordination with US Department of Transportation and we sincerely hope that with the reformative process already underway, they will review their decision to revoke the permissions.”

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Following disclosure by Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan in Parliament that 150 PIA pilots had ‘dubious’ licences, the European Union and UK aviation authorities had barred the airline from flying to their airports for at least six months.

The aviation regulators of several other countries, meanwhile, have sought verification of credentials of Pakistani pilots and engineers working there.

The development comes as the federal government in recent days has tried to assuage concerns about Pakistani pilots, stating that an inquiry into the issuance of ‘illegal’ licences to 236 pilots between 2012 and 2018 was in progress.

Notice to US embassy over Covid

A civil court in Lahore has issued notices to the US Embassy in Pakistan and others on a $20 billion damages suit filed by a citizen over the spread of COVID-19, a lawyer said on Thursday.

A senior advocate from Lahore Waseem Yusuf Khan, who witnessed the court proceedings, told Xinhua news agency that the plaintiff named Raza Ali, who recovered from COVID-19 recently, alleged in his suit on Wednesday that the US was solely responsible for the unchecked spread of the virus which incurred losses on him, his family and the country, reports Xinhua news agency.

WASHINGTON D.C., July 23, 2019 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump (L) welcomes Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House in Washington D.C. July 22, 2019. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua/IANS) by Liu Jie.
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House in Washington D.C. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua/IANS)

The plaintiff has also made US Consul General in Lahore, the Secretary of Defense through the consul general defendants in his petition, saying that his family members were suffering and their health was compromised.

He alleged that the virus was spread in the world because the defendants failed to fulfil their duties to the international community and put billions of human lives in danger.

According to the Ali, the unrestricted spread of the virus in the US and stance of the country’s leadership became the basic cause for the spread of the virus all over the world, including Pakistan.

“The defendants are responsible for the colossal death toll, misery, and economic disasters they inflicted on the world, including but not limited to entire Pakistan,” said the petition, adding that the US administration has been generating hurdles before international unity and global strategy to fight COVID-19.

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The civil judge of the court issued notices to the respondents and asked them to appear before the court on August .

According to local media reports, the court has also sought a legal opinion to stop the US Consul General from leaving Pakistan until the decision of the petition.

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