Suo Moto and Overseas Pakistanis

  • The MD OPF and GM CAA will appear on November 1, before a three member Supreme Court Division Bench headed by Mr. Justice Jaawad Khawaja on a suo moto concerning facilities extended to the Overseas Pakistanis at our airports. The reading of newspaper clipping gives an impression that the subject is the facilities at "Airports". If that is the case then the OPF is totally irrelevant in it as OPF is nothing to do at the airports. OPF though has established so called facilitation counters at the airports but these are merely show piece and just for providing jobs to some which is a trend in the country. The OPF has no official powers to indulge in the working of any other Departments except for as a post office forward the grievance of an OP to the other Department and after that forget.

    The suo moto was taken when an Honourable Judge last year returned from Canada. He might have faced or found shortage of trolleys, late arrival of baggage. These are the two major phases an arriving passenger, local resident or a returning expatriate has to pass through. The other two are WCs and clearance from Customs. The customs clearance whether a returning local resident or an expatriate is today very smooth and speedy at our airports. The only thing from the suo moto then comes in mind is perhaps separate trolleys and conveyor belts for local Pakistanis and expatriates are the need of time. Then there should also be at some later phase separate arrival/international lounges, separate WCs, separate security checks, separate airlines check-in-counters, separate immigration booths, separate car parking, separate family see off/reception areas etc .

    The OPs never wished any special or a different treatment not at par with the local resident Pakistanis. As a long standing Pakistani working abroad particularly being a realistic person, for example, I don’t wish that while I return Pakistan on holidays the Government ensures that my house remained illuminated while my two sides neighbours remain in load shedding. What the Overseas Pakistan have always desired is that they be provided the very genuine facilities which a few are briefly namely:

    1. My Lordship The Chief Justice the other day observed that NAB is not working, Ombudsman has not been appointed hence to whom this Court may send the cases for investigation. The point is what are those other Departments other than NAB and Ombudsman actually doing? The throat of a Pakistani illiterate worker here in Bahrain two years back came in the grip of a running industrial machine. Immediate series of operations including stitching of his throat saved his life. He was not able to speak or move and was put on floor to remain motionless. Stitching made his throat narrow resulting he was unable even to drink anything. Every third day due to hunger he was taken to the Emergency to be injected liquid food through drips. On his mandatory insurance issue and on the issue that despite having charged from him heavy Protector of Immigrants fee and despite his mandatory OPF membership on high fee what practical "welfare", protection or facility was provided to him by State Life, OPF and Protector of Immigrants? He raised this issue with the Federal Ombudsman. How mush human sympathy the then Ombudsman the non appointment of whose the SC today feels, can be judged from the fact that the Ombudsman wrote to the complainant unable to move, lying then on almost a death bed, unable even to drink, to complete certain paper worth formalities adding further that failing that "adverse action will be taken (against him)". I have seen the Government Departments when do not respond timely the Ombudsman instead of threatening them any action keep sending "requesting" reminders but if there is a paper worth formality the same Ombudsman "threatens" a dying man of adverse action. What authority the Ombudsman has for taking an adverse action and what is an adverse action? There is not a single word in the written form which allows ombudsman to take any action against a complainant in case he did not timely" complete procedural formality. The SC which is determined to take care of common masses, may welcome complaints of expatriates and forward those to the concerned ombudsmen. Directly addressing them means no hope of any justice as today our ombudsmen mostly delivery their decisions and not arrive at justice.

    2. The biggest problem of these expatriates is that their houses and land is grabbed taking advantage of their absence. The SC may for this direct that any complaint on such a matter through Pakistan Embassy is formally registered as an FIR by the Police.

    3. Keeping in view the general condition of Government desiring any incentive or facility involving finance is a cruel thing. However safety of their own financial interests and human rights is a very genuine request. The OPF as well as Ministry of Foreign Affairs have two colossal funds comprising all money taken from the Overseas Pakistanis in the name of "welfare" in addition to Protector of Overseas Immigrant Fee. What welfare in return is given is not evident. The contributors namely OPs do not know any details about these Funds namely how much money was there, where it is, how much is spent and where, are these funds actually existing at those should be etc. Seeing the fate of National Bank of Pakistan welfare fund, Ola Age Labour social funds, Police foundation etc money this senior citizen despite his age, sickness and physical inability on 28 May 2011 addressed My Lordship the Chief Justice of Pakistan praying that since it is the right of me as well as other expatriates contributing these Funds to periodically like annually know and have a sort of brief annual report before any Ansar Abbasi or Rauf Kalasra one day reveals about any new welfare fund. In my this human rights petition I specially quoted the case of a Pakistani in Bahrain who till today for the last 6 months is unconscious in hospital having his tongue cut by the vandals. What welfare this unconscious Pakistani was afforded out of these funds, was the base of my taking courage to address that humble petition for the collective interest of the OPs.

    4. The present Federal Ombudsman system unnecessary calls the OP complainants to attend the Hearings. Justice Sardar Mohammad Iqbal the first Ombudsman Pakistan so far unmatched for never called any OP. During 1997 Islamabad Overseas Pakistanis International Convention voices by participants were raised when the Federal Ombudsman himself issued an order to his own Secretariat not to summon OPs unnecessary but since today functionaries every where appear to be above law more particularly retired re-employed ones in Ombudsman offices his own staff do not obey this instruction.

    5. OPF be directed to practically and physically follow with the concerned Departments by its staff's personal visits and telephones on the complaints received from OPs expense of which where desired could be billed to complainant. At present its large army is working merely as postmen forwarding the complaint received through a two line memo to the concerned authority never ever at its own to follow again unless reminded by the complainant.