Home Views & Opinions Prime Minister, please make more friends than enemies

Prime Minister, please make more friends than enemies

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There is no doubt that you care too much for the poor and have taken some concrete steps to provide them relief and everyone understands that government cannot reach to each and every individual. It is good you addressed ambassadors and High Commissioners all over the world to tell them that you were not happy with their performance and rightly pointed out that present system of British colonial era is no more applicable to Pakistan. Perhaps you overlooked the point that the system employed in embassies abroad is primarily an extension of old British colonial era being practiced in Pakistan. It may be pointed out that how can you have two systems operating in embassies and in the country simultaneously? For the moment forget about the embassies abroad people of Pakistan are victims of old British colonial era system and no government including yours has been able to bring any change in the behaviour and attitude of various functionaries. Have you been able to change Thana culture? The answer is emphatic no. Go in any office be it provincial or federal there is only one system “pay money’ and get the file moving. Let me quote a case narrated by former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar who blamed himself and said hewas able to give possession of a house to a lady after 61 years. Whereas it should have been decided in days.Hundreds of such examples can be given and even current situation is not better. This is the ground reality. People facing enormous problems with NADRA, the interesting feature of NADRA is they make mistakes while entering particulars and when point out mistakes on CNIC instead correcting it demand scores of documents to rectify the mistake committed by them. You must have experienced with the number of complaints received on PM’s portal which is just a small fraction of problems being faced by the people including overseas Pakistanis.
Now coming to your address to our Ambassadorsaround the globe. It is good to remind them about the difficulties being faced by overseas Pakistanis. Sir you made a mistake by addressing them collectively. It appears you were not properly briefed about the set up of embassies and staff deployed. In most of the embassies representatives of various ministries are posted to solve the problems of visitors that include press attaches, officer from Ministry of Commerce, community welfare attaches, Staff of Nadra and military attaches except for military attaché expatriates can approach anybody. Apart from this ambassadors have never been assigned the responsibility of bringing investment. It would have been more appropriate to send them DO letter, therefore criticism by retired foreign officers and reservations expressed by serving ambassadors is justified. The problem has always been in Saudi Arab and UAE where 2.2 million and 1.5 million people are working majority belongs to labour class and they have been facing problems and are forced to pay money to get their work done. They face two major issues Passport and CNIC. In remaining embassies the situation is different majority belongs to professionals and they don’t face such problems as faced by labour class. That is the main reason that your message has not been received well and majority of our ambassadors is not happy on your speech. The complaints of labour working in UAE and KSA are genuine and nothing new.Just to recall it was in the year 2010 when Jameel Ahmed Khan took charge of UAE embassy he took appropriate measures and ensured that labour class work is done without any hassle because he would take pain and come out and physically see how the labour is treated. It is unfair to undermine the efforts of our diplomatic Corps instead taking action against two embassies UAE and Saudi Arab all ambassadors has been roped in. Thirdly why Prime Minister should address the ambassadors instead Foreign secretary or Minister of Foreign Affairs should have tackled the issue? In fact this was charge sheet to our foreign office and should have been dealt accordingly. You should have made answerable the Foreign Secretary and Foreign Minister? Our media is vibrant and has been pointing out the problems and difficulties faced by overseas Pakistanis on regular basis irrespective who was the ruler. As pointed out earlier you have mentioned in your address that embassies deal around 17 issues pertaining to people working abroad and contributing billions of rupees in the shape of foreign remittances badly needed under difficult financial situation and further added if they had not remitted the money the country may have been declared bankrupt therefore they deserve better treatment. The most common issues as you also mentioned are attestation of documents, renewal of passports, making of NICOP, renewal of NICOP, power of attorney, death certificates, birth certificates, assistance to people facing trials on various counts, in accessibility of ambassadors and counselGeneral, staff working in the embassy indulges in corrupt practices, lack of response, delay in solving their problems, mishandling of even small issues and causing avoidable delays. There is one distinguished category of people from Pakistan who go on fake documents to earn their bread and butter by paying huge bribe to agents and staff at immigration counters. They mostly get caught bringing bad name to the country and are put in jail. There is another category of people who overstay get punished and are sent to jail. Although these people don’t deserve any mercy but being Pakistanis our embassies do help them in getting them released from jails and their deportation. Since bulk of people go to Saudi Arabia and UAE and earn foreign exchange for Pakistan therefore their complaints require special and immediate handling. It is also true that lower staff employed in embassies abroad not all of them do demand bribe. In case of complaint our tendency is to support the staff instead taking action against them. Infact over the years one system has worked very efficiently and that is to make money but exceptions are always there. Let me narrate you my experience when I visited Consulate of Pakistan Bradford UK on 29 Oct 2019 in connection with getting Power of Attorney from my elder brother. When I reached Consulate faced no difficulty in parking my vehicle as Consulate had arranged enough of car parking space for the visitors. At the gate received entry number and entered the main hall People were waiting on the chairs and would go to the respective counters when their number was called. The moment I pointed out that I was senior citizen staff member Mrs Kubra Khalid was very respectful and guided me throughout and completed various stages simultaneously she was helping others. It took about half an hour and I got the power of attorney, while leaving I thanked the staff and left the CG office.Things are not that bad as depicted because as a nation we show no patience hence the problem get compounded. Here I would like to point out major flaw about attested Power of Attorney. It is accepted only if verified by the office of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and one can understand the hassle. It should be verified by Ministry of Foreign Affairs using facility of Whattsapp
Despite the annoyance of foreign service officers and being publicly scolded it is fact that our Pakistan’s diplomatic missions performance has failed to satisfy overseas Pakistanis. So far tall claims of civil service reforms has not yielded any result and future is also uncertain.