ISLAMABAD: In an unusual development, members of a Senate panel, Wednesday, walked out of the committee's proceedings against a federal secretary, accusing him of 'disorderly' conduct, causing the panel's meeting to end abruptly.
The development surfaced in the meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs presided over by its Chairperson Rubina Khalid from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). According to details, the committee, in its meeting, took up the matter involving a cargo ship that "ran aground on the beach in Karachi after it lost its anchors due to rough weather."
Secretary Maritime Affairs Rizwan Ahmed gave a comprehensive briefing to the committee regarding the issue. According to the briefing, a cargo ship coming from Shanghai, China, was on its way to Istanbul, Turkey. The ship did not enter the Karachi Port. It was in Pakistani waters for change of crew members. The rough sea caused the vessel to lose its anchors and it started drifting towards shallow water. The ship was already in shallow waters by the time the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) was informed about the situation.
"The environmental experts raised fears that oil being transported in the vessel could spill, which could potentially damage the environment," the secretary briefed.
He further informed the committee that the ship had the flag of Panama.
"Salvaging the vessel is the responsibility of the ship's owners and the insurance company concerned," he said.
The Secretary, Maritime Affairs, said the ship came on the Pakistan's shores on July 17, and, he said, by the time the ministry was informed of the drifting of ship on its return to Pakistani waters after it lost the second anchor, it was the first day of Eid and the ports were closed.
Upon this, the committee chairperson asked, "Is there any country in the world where ports are closed on religious festivals?"
She then accused the secretary of not coming up with a 'definite' and 'satisfactory' reply.
The Senate panel members had an exchange of heated arguments with the Secretary Maritime Affairs. They walked out of the committee meeting in protest against the secretary, alleging that the senior officer was behaving 'disorderly'.
The committee chairperson then called off the meeting. A government official, requesting anonymity, told Business Recorder that certain lawmakers were approaching the Secretary Maritime Affairs regarding recruitments, transfers, postings and other issues related to Ministry of Maritime Affairs. The secretary, the source said, refused to entertain the demands of those legislators.
"What happened in the committee meeting on Wednesday is linked to that episode," the official said.
"The Ministry of Maritime Affairs would be forced to name those lawmakers who were trying to meddle in the ministry's affairs, if they keep humiliating senior government officials in the committees' meetings," the source said.
The meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs was attended by Kauda Babar, Nuzhat Sadiq, Fida Muhammad, Abdul Qadir, Danesh Kumar, Dost Muhammad and Muhammad Akram. The officials of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, and Law and Justice Division were also in attendance.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021