PIA plane crash: Aviation minister dismisses rumours of resignation

Civil Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Thursday rejected all rumours regarding his resignation and maintained that no one should be held accountable for the ill-fated Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) crash till the inquiry is completed in the matter.

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While addressing a press conference in Lahore, the minister said that neither was he asked to resign nor had he made such an offer, adding that nobody’s fault or negligence has been identified yet.

The federal minister said that on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan, he has been visiting the families of all those killed in the plane crash.

He said that of the eight deceased crew members, the bodies of seven have been handed over to their heirs.

Sarwar said that the aircraft’s voice box and data box has been handed over to the French probe team sent by Airbus for further investigations and hopefully, within a week, the team would brief the ministry on the initial findings.

He said that the full report of the plane crash might take four to six months. The provisional report, however, would be made public by June 2.

“We are striving for a transparent, fair and impartial inquiry regarding the regretful incident,” said the aviation minister.

Speaking about the compensation given to the victims’ families, Sarwar said about Rs1 million have been allotted for the bereaved families of the passengers, cabin crew and technicians.

“Three maids were critically burnt and endured serious injures in the incident. One of them, unfortunately passed away. Compensations have also been allotted for the injured and deceased residents of the crash site,” he said.

The minister went on to add that for the time being, the affected families have been provided accommodation at the PIA hotel.

Stressing that maximum facilitation is being provided to the victims’ families, the aviation minister stated that the brother of deceased pilot Sajjad Gul, who came from London for his brother’s funeral, was given a ticket by PIA “in line with our standard operating procedures and directives from the premier to facilitate the victims of PIA plane crash”.

The minister also discussed the repatriation of Pakistanis stranded abroad due to coronavirus and international travel restrictions imposed across the world. He said that the operation to bring back 34,000 Pakistanis stranded abroad will continue till June 10.

“After June 10, we will take the provinces into confidence and decide the next course of action,” he said, adding that about 100,000 Pakistanis stranded abroad have applied for repatriation in their respective embassies.

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