ISLAMABAD: The Gwadar Port may be shut down if the Pakistan Navy does not vacate the 582 hectares of government land it has occupied, Ports and Shipping Minister Babar Khan Ghauri said on Tuesday.

Replying to a supplementary question during the Senate session, he said the navy’s occupation of the land was adversely affecting the functioning of the port and could force its closure. He said three berths of the port were currently functioning, adding a large number of trucks were transporting urea and wheat from Gwadar to the rest of the country. He said it was unfortunate that all the trucks had to travel to Karachi from Gwadar due to the lack of direct links between Gwadar and the other major hubs of the country. Pakistan Railways and the National Highway Authority (NHA) have been urged to expedite work on establishing rail and road links to ensure optimum utilisation of the Gwadar Port facilities, he added.

Walkout: Also on Tuesday, senators from Balochistan staged a token walkout from the Senate to protest the non-representation of their province in the Labour attachés posted abroad. Senator Kalsoom Perveen raised the issue during question hour, saying there were no Baloch attachés among the 21 posted abroad. The other members from Balochistan joined her protest and staged a walkout.

The Senate was also informed that none of the madrassas affiliated with the Wafaqul Madaris Al-Arabia were involved in anti-state activities. Education Minister Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani told the House that of a total of 15,843 madrassas, 507 had been registered with the government under the Madrassa Reforms Project. He said in addition to their own religious subjects, the project had also made English, Maths, General Science and Pakistan Studies compulsory from primary to secondary level and English, Economics, Pakistan Studies and Computer Science at higher secondary level. He said the project would end by June 2010 unless it was given an extension.

Social Welfare and Special Education Minister Samina Khalid Ghurki informed the House her ministry was currently updating data related to the implementation of a two percent quota for disabled persons in ministries and divisions. She said the current data showed a 0.78 percent shortfall. She said all ministries and provincial governments were being pursued to implement the policy. The Federal Public Service Commission has allowed disabled persons to sit the Civil Service of Pakistan examination in commerce and trade; audit and accounts; information and postal groups, she added.

Source: Daily Times