Pakistan has territorial jurisdiction on foreign flag ships when such ships are within the territorial jurisdiction of Pakistan. Pakistan has no jurisdiction on foreign flag ships, when such ships are not within the territorial waters of Pakistan. A Pakistani seaman serving on board a foreign flag ship outside jurisdiction of Pakistan has to sign on Article of Agreement / Contract of Employment of that foreign flag ship . Pakistani seafarers are free to sign-on Article of Agreement / Contract of Employment of a foreign flag ship without visiting the office of the shipping master .
Federal Government by way of notification in the official Gazette, may make rules or regulations for implementing the provisions of Maritime International Conventions ratified by Pakistan .
The Pakistani seafarers having qualifications required for service on a ship, have a right to sign Article of Agreement / Contract of Employment for joining foreign flag ships . They are not required to sign on Pakistan Article of Agreement nor do they have to obtain any no objection certificate from Government shipping office to board an aircraft for joining foreign flag ship either on a visa or on valid SID.
The requirement of seafarers appearing before the shipping master to join foreign flag ship and to sign on Pakistan Article of Agreement is void ab initio and has to be done away with. Following traditional conventional method adopted by the Government shipping office for joining foreign flag ships by Pakistani seafarers is illegal and is the main hindrance in the employment of Pakistani seafarers on foreign flag ships:
(i) sign on request letter for joining foreign flag ships issued by the manning agent addressing the shipping master to be delivered to the concerned officer of the Government shipping office;
(ii) for stamping of SSB, the documents are submitted to concerned Officer for verification purpose and SSB along with the related documents are handed over to another Officer for noting amount of fees required to be paid by the seafarer on the sign on letter and the documents for signing on; the SSB is forwarded to the Computer Division of the Government shipping office for data entry and clearance.
(iii) after the clearance from the Computer Division, the fee is deposited in the Account Department of the Government shipping office by the manning agent on behalf of the seafarer;
(iv) the Government shipping office, thereafter, issues no objection certificate to the seafarer accompanying the manning agent;
(v) the Pakistan Article of Agreement is placed before another officer for noting down of fees on request letter and no objection certificate;
(vi) the manning agent takes no objection certificate, sign-on letter and Pakistan Article of Agreement to the deputy shipping master for signature and attestation by the shipping master for signing on the Pakistan Article of Agreement;
(vii) the shipping master and the seafarer sign-on Pakistan Article of Agreement, a copy of the Pakistan Article of Agreement is delivered to the seafarer while the shipping master retains the other copy of the Article of Agreement in Government shipping office, original and three copies of the no objection certificate are made and original no objection certificate along with a copy is handed over to the manning agent to be delivered to the Pakistani seafarer for joining foreign flag ship;
(viii) at the time of departure of seafarer for joining foreign flag ship, the seafarer has to submit original no objection certificate to the Immigration Authorities at the Airport;
(ix) after joining the foreign flag ship, the Pakistani seafarer sign on Article of Agreement / contract of employment of foreign flag ship.
All of the above stated procedure for a Pakistan seafarer to join a foreign flag ship are exercise in futile, time consuming, outdated and is not in accordance with the Merchant Shipping Ordinance, 2001 and ILO Conventions that Pakistan has ratified.
The course of evolution that has taken place in the Government shipping offices of other port states and increased literacy rate of seafarers all over the world, there is dire need to have a compact and modern form of Article of Agreement to enable seafarers to become internationally competitive.