Apr 23 - 29, 20

Senator Babar Khan Ghauri, Minister for Ports and Shipping, has said that the quota system is not only the negation of the democratic spirit but also dividing nation constitutionally as the quota allocation in education system has been allowed in our constitution.

Speaking at Lifetime Achievement Awards ceremony organized by Master Mariners Society of Pakistan (MMSP) to honor veteran mariners of Pakistan Merchant Navy in Karachi last week, the minister for ports and shipping said that sustainable growth without giving due respect to the merit is only a dream and if the curse of quota system was not done away with, the incompetent stuff coming under the umbrella of quota system will destroy the economic and social order of the society.

He paid glowing tributes to MMSP for what he said the outstanding achievements during 34 years of its existence as a body representing professional mariners of Pakistan and producing outstanding master mariners who served the merchant marine with distinction.

The port and shipping is the only vibrant sector where even today the foreign investment is coming in. However, this sector can do much more if the people having expertise come and join in instead of running for money in the private sector. Going to earn more is not a negative thing, yet the national needs should also be kept in mind while making decision.

Senator Babar Ghauri said that the history of Pakistan's ports and shipping sector is extremely rich. He recalled that prior to inception of Pakistan and even after creation of it, Karachi harbor was a small port and dominated by non-Muslims communities and the Muslims were not allowed to enter the city after the sunset. However, today ever body is making claims that this city belongs to them.

The minister said that it is quite encouraging that over 5,000 qualified mariners are working abroad and contributing to the national economy. However, this sector needs more improvement to upgrade marine education capable to meet global standards in all respect including port handling, ocean going and cargo handlings etc.

He revealed that Dr. Ishratul Ebad, Governor Sindh, has taken special interest in marine education and with his efforts, the NED University, which is a country's most respectable engineering university, has started to impart marine education that would certainly help to add value to human resource in this sector.

He strongly recommended that Pakistan Marine Academy should also take initiatives to improve quality of education to meet the challenges and opportunities available in the ports and shipping sector.

Speaking on the occasion, Capt. Haleem A Siddiqui, President MMSP, said that MMSP's mission had always been to promote professional standards of all those associated with maritime profession and MMSP through its membership has always contributed towards growth of the economy in general and the maritime industry in particular.

Today, there is a shortage of more than 30,000 seafarers in the merchant ship industry of the world, said Capt. Haleem urging that this is the time we must put our best efforts to grab this opportunity to maximize share in available job opportunities for our seafarers. However, to achieve this target the only option with us is to strengthen our training institute to provide them world class training.

In this respect, he mentioned that the only pre-sea training institutions in Pakistan operated and managed by the government is Pakistan Marine Academy (PMA). He suggested that since this institution is of utmost importance, efforts are needed to upgrade it with a view to meet the revised STCW 2012 requirement as envisaged in Manila Convention of IMO in 2010 to ensure proper training and provide opportunity for the employment to our mariners.

In this respect, Capt. Haleem cited the example of country like India, Philippines, Indonesia, and many other countries which have been given concession in private sector to operate proper institutions for training purposes equally good as PMA. He urged the minister that our training institutes too are allowed to operate under regulatory body to maintain high standards of training required by the international maritime industry.

Capt. Haleem also mentioned that MMSP has recently become the member of International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations (IFSMA) with its headquarters in London. This global organization represents about 7185 master mariners from 58 countries. It is recognized as the only federation representing master mariners on a worldwide scale.

IFSMA has permanent representation at international maritime organization and its opinion on maritime affairs is sought by the respective governments worldwide. Capt. Haleem said that with MMSP membership of this august body, Pakistani Master Mariners now have a voice on the international scene.