KARACHI - The difficulty and delays in the issuance of visas to Pakistani seafarers, particularly after 9/11, have resulted in the loss of due share of Pakistani seafarers in the international employment market. It has learnt that Pakistani seafarers are gradually loosing their share in the international employment market. This reduction has come around 5,000 seafarers employed in international fleet, which were 7,300 in 2001, can easily gain US$25 million annually. It is imperative that the issue of difficulties and delays in the issuance of visas to our seafarers should be taken up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with foreign missions in Pakistan and a viable solution like pre-screening and pre-scrutinising of our seafarers is to be found as soon as possible. Moreover, marketing efforts need to be made by our missions abroad, particularly in major seafarers employment centres, such as Greece, Cyprus, Singapore and other countries. It has also been suggested that Ministry of Ports and Shipping should pursue the employment of Pakistani seafarers on board Greek flag ship as well as ships owned by Greek and Cyprus ship owners but registered under other flags, of which there is considerable number, with Greece Maritime Authority. It is of much value that our seafarers are very cost competitive and there is not a single maritime security incident onboard where any Pakistani seafarer was found involved, said a maritime expert captain Anwar Shah. He said the govt must give a target to the ministry to double the present employment ratio within a year, so that remittances on this account may double up to 140 million dollars with continued efforts to target minimum US$0.5 billion. Our seafarers meet all the requirements related to qualification and skills, for example, Pakistan is listed in the International Maritime Organisations (IMO) 'White List since the inception of this list which means that Pakistan has given full and complete effect to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended (commonly known as STCW-95, he added. Moreover, Pakistani Certificate of Competency is considered equivalent to those issued by many commonwealth nations and other developed western countries, for example, United Kingdom issues their Certificate of Equivalence to holders of Pakistani CoCs, he said. Shah said Pakistani seafarers also hold a computerised Seafarers Identity Document, issued to meet the requirements of International Labour Organisations Convention C-185. Most of our seafarers also hold computerised seaman service book. It is pertinent to mention that there is a requirement of around 1.2 million seafarers to operate the international fleet which forms the backbone of international trade. As per latest available information, there is a current shortage of around 10,000 officers internationally. The irony is that we are loosing our employment share in a growing market, a very serious issue in terms of marketing, but on the other end the share of Philippines and India currently stands at around 300,000 and 60,000 seafarers respectively and still on rise. Indian seafarers remit US$1 billion annually whilst Philippine seafarers are remitting some US$4 to 5 billion. Pakistan is situated in a region, which has been famous for supplying hardworking, competent and efficient seafarers since over 150 years, and at present Pakistan has around 20,000 registered seafarers.