The Pakistani national carrier has suspended the roles of 150 pilots over concerns that their licences may not be valid.

The county's aviation minister told parliament of his concern that some commercial airline pilots have counterfeit credentials or had not passed the appropriate exams.

Minister Ghulam Sarwar Kahn said that almost 30 per cent of the country's civilian pilots "did not take the exam themselves," reported CNN's from Islamabad.

Reports on historic air crashes the minister was concerned that the pilots involved were not qualified to be flying. This included a 2018 incident in which the pilot's licence had been printed during a public holiday, indicating that it was forged.

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In all the aviation ministry's report found that 260 of the country's 860 pilots were void.
This shocking revelation comes after a fatal air crash in a residential area of Karachi on May 22, which killed 98 onboard and injured scores on the ground.

98 people were killed after an aircrash over Karachi in May. Photo / Fareed Khan, AP
98 people were killed after an aircrash over Karachi in May. Photo / Fareed Khan, AP

It was not reported whether the pilots held valid licences, the minister said that their actions were reckless and they had ignored warnings from traffic control.

"The pilots were discussing corona throughout the flight. They were not focused. They talked about the coronavirus and how their families were affected," Khan told parliament.

In response to the allegations the national airline Pakistan International Airlines said it would be suspending some pilots. PIA confirmed to AFP news agency that the probe had exposed 150 of its 434 pilots to have "either bogus or suspicious licences".

It has been forced to ground these pilots which may lead to cancellations.

The international airlines body IATA said that the irregularities among Pakistan issued pilot licences represented a "serious lapse" in safety controls.

"We are following reports from Pakistan regarding fake pilot licences, which are concerning and represent a serious lapse in the licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator,"an IATA spokesperson told Reuters.