ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities are close to breaking a lingering deadlock on a land dispute between the government and the navy, officials told The Express Tribune. The dispute has stalled the development of the Gwadar deep sea port for almost half a decade now.

The anticipated agreement between the Pakistan Navy and the Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) is likely to pave the way for resumption of development work. Officials told The Express Tribune last week that the prospects of the settlement appeared when the navy had agreed to a proposal by the Balochistan government to withdraw its claim over 670 acres of Gwadar land. As compensation, they added, the GPA would arrange the same size of land for the navy somewhere else in Gwadar, away from the port.

“It seems there has emerged a consensus among all the stakeholders on the Gwadar land and an agreement is in the sight soon. It is going to be a huge achievement,” said an official of the Balochistan government. The official requested anonymity because the matters were still not finalised.

A top official in the GPA confirmed that negotiations between the authority and Balochistan government’s revenue department were in the final stage and a positive outcome was highly likely.

The land dispute was the main reason behind the abandonment of plans to lease the land to the Singapore Port Authority (SPA), with whom a 40 year agreement to handle Gwadar Port was signed by the government of former president Pervez Musharraf.

The dispute intensified to such a degree that the Supreme Court had in 2010 issued a stay order against the allotment of land belonging to the Gwadar Port Trust Authority to a foreign company.

In the meantime, there were rumours that the government was planning to scrap the deal with the SPA and hand Gwadar over to Chinese companies.

But the GPA official denied any such plans and said the authority wanted to continue the agreement with the SPA.