ISLAMABAD, Sept 26: While the issue seems to be heading towards a resolution, the National Assembly’s Committee on Ports and Shipping on Wednesday took up the import of thousands of allegedly sick sheep into the country. The committee decided to constitute a sub-committee to look into the matter, with the members saying the issue was of national concern as the prime minister and the judiciary had taken it up.
The sub-committee would be headed by the chairman of the committee, MNA Mahmoodul Hassan of the PML-N, and submit a report to the parent body in 15 days.
The committee meeting began with traditional rhetoric by the MNAs who expressed concern over the arrival of over 21,000 sheep from Australia that had been rejected by another country.
The members called upon the chairman of the committee to issue a strong ruling against the Port Qasim Authority (PQA) for placing the local people and livestock at the risk of getting infected.
After demanding to know why the port authorities allowed the berthing of the cargo ship carrying the sheep, some members suggested that the PQA officials should be tried for negligence. However, the secretary of ports and shipping, Agha Sarwar Raza Qazilbash, told the meeting that the PQA had no role in the clearance of the sheep or the nature of cargo. “The matter is related to the customs department and the livestock authorities.” The import of 21,268 sheep earlier this month raised alarm bells when some media reports suggested that the animals, originally destined for Bahrain, had been infected with scabby mouth disease.
The ship carrying the sheep had arrived in Bahrain on Aug 29 but was not allowed a berth due to disease in the animals. Instead of returning to Australia, the ship sailed to its unscheduled destination, Port Qasim in Karachi, where the sheep were unloaded and handed over to an importer namely Tariq Butt.
Roads to Gwadar port
The committee members expressed dissatisfaction over a briefing by various departments about road network leading to Gwadar Port in Balochistan. They directed the officials concerned to submit a detailed report over the ongoing projects and their expenditures at the National Assembly Secretariat in a week.
The committee was briefed about the M-8 which connects Gwadar, Dasht, Turbat and Hoshab to the 454km road linking Hoshab, Basima and Soorab (N-85).
The committee was briefed by the officials from the Gwadar Port Authority, finance ministry, Planning Commission and National Highway Authority, who expressed concern over security issues at the sites of both the road projects.It decided that a sub-committee would visit the sites for physical verification of the report.