China border opening delayed over SARS fears
By Shaukat Piracha
ISLAMABAD: Federal Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat on Wednesday said the government was likely to postpone the annual summer opening of Pakistan’s border with China due today (Thursday) to prevent the spread of the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus.
Pakistan’s border with China is normally open to goods and passengers from May 1 to December 31, but is closed due to harsh weather in winter. “It is likely the government may not open the border with China on May 1 because of the threat of SARS spreading in Pakistan,” the minister told Daily Times here at the Parliament House. However, he said no formal decision had yet been taken in this regard. “We have left it to the Northern Areas administration to take the decision, keeping in view the ground realities”, he said, adding, “We have sent them necessary instructions for taking adequate safety measures.” He said the government was considering to suspend air flights to SARS-affected countries.
The minister said the government was firm in its resolve not to allow banned religious organizations from resuming their activities under new names. The minister did not agree to a question that banning an individual from forming an association or political party was against his fundamental rights protected by the Constitution. “The government is empowered to take action when national security is threatened and the Anti-Terrorism Act clearly addresses this question and provides for legal action against renaming of banned organisations,” he said.
“We have decided to deploy the entire female immigration staff at international airports and as many as 250 women would soon be recruited to effectively check human trafficking from Pakistan,” he said, elaborating that females were less inclined towards corruption and were generally more decent compared to male immigration staff.