Our overseas | By Advocate Hammad Ali


Our overseas

PARDES many are familiar with this word, but not with the hardships it contains. When Socrates was sentenced to death, he had the opportunity to leave the country, instead of leaving Athens, he chose death.

In history the worst kind of punishment was forcing someone to leave the country. Leaving Motherland is not an easy task.

One does not stay thousands of miles away because of choice, these are compulsions of time which compels one to do so.

Although in this global village everyone is connected, and living away is not that much difficult such as in the past, the problems faced by those who are living abroad are still there.

The overseas have to face multiple issues which include financial issues, security related problems, labour abuse and list goes on.

Once a person told me, he remained homeless for many days in Saudi Arabia because he was unable to pay the home rent and the owner forced him to leave the house. Moreover, when students go abroad for study, they have to work at low wage.

The employers try to find the newcomers so that they can exploit them. It’s very common in developed countries.

Further, the people have to face discrimination and racism. It impairs them mentally.

Multiple incidents have been reported in which Pakistani overseas have become victim of different kinds of assaults and batteries because they are the Muslims and Asian.

Recently, an unidentified person in the United States threw acid on a Pakistani girl, and she was blinded and disfigured.

According to Ministry of Overseas Pakistani and Human Resource Development, approximately 8.8 million Pakistani live abroad, and nearly half live in the Middle East.

Second highest number of the Overseas Pakistani live in the United Kingdom which is 1.2 million, nearly 0.6 million in the United States, and remaining in all other countries of the world.

These overseas are the true asset of Pakistan. They contribute a lot in the development of Pakistan. They bring ideas, money, education and many other things which contribute to the progress and prosperity of Pakistan.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan, in the dire circumstances, when Pakistan was facing economic turmoil and Covid-19 was hanging as a Sword of Damocles over Pakistan’s economy, the overseas Pakistani emerged as our greatest saviour.

They sent historic remittance in fiscal year 2019-20 that was $23.120 billion, and still they are contributing and their contribution in the first half of the fiscal year 2020-21 is all time high i.e. $14.2 billion.

They are also bringing good name to the country by providing their services in various fields at different levels.

For example, Sada Cumber a Pakistani-American businessman and diplomat, served as the US representatives to the OIC and Sadiq Khan is serving as Mayor of London, moreover, there are also many well-renowned overseas politicians, businessmen and professionals who are our pride.

Living thousands of miles away from mother land is already a difficult task, but when they come to Pakistan, they have to face many issues in homeland. Prime Minister Imran Khan is sincerely working to address the issues facing by overseas.

His government has taken various laudable initiatives for overseas eg Roshan Digital Account, Roshan Apni Car and Roshan Samaji Khidmat.

Recently he arranged a virtual meeting and asked the country’s Ambassadors to forgo colonial-era attitude and treat overseas Pakistanis with compassion.

Although the current government has taken some steps for overseas Pakistanis, a lot is needed to be done.

Following are some suggestions which should be considered,
First of all, the government should give online access to the Overseas in all matters so that they can easily sort out their all issues.

There are multiple cases in which different influential people illegally seize property of the Overseas Pakistanis. Even after the struggle of many years the Overseas failed to take their property back.

They are not entertained properly by the state institutions. At last, they have to go abroad because of their personal engagements.

Sometimes they also don’t have any family member in Pakistan who can pursue their case and the judges decide the case as ex-parte decree.

Thus, the justice which is the responsibility of the state is not provided to the person who deserves.

Though late, the present government has launched a special portal to keep the Overseas Pakistanis get their matters solve online.

Secondly, when the Overseas Pakistanis come to Pakistan the staff at airport do not behave well.

It’s very common that any of the staff members stop them without any reason just to get some money, and those who return to spend some days in their motherland are bewildered by the behaviour of the natives.

So, the government should make arrangements for the overseas at the airport, their must be dealt with dignity. They are our asset. They must be respected and facilitated.

Thirdly, the government should try its best to facilitate the overseas through their embassies and consulate. The government should also help the overseas to get loans on easy terms.

The agreements must be made with major countries to facilitate our Diaspora. Furthermore, their must be an option for them to take loan from Pakistan by fulfilling certain conditions online.

It would end the economic insecurity, and if they do any business abroad it would indirectly benefit Pakistan in the shape of remittances.

Fourthly, the government should take strict action agonist those who do not behave well with the overseas.

Recently the government has recalled the envoy to Saudi Arabia and six diplomats because of the complaints of the people.

It’s a very good move. The government should ensure the facilitation of the overseas at every cost.

Moreover, in the countries where Pakistani overseas are in large number, the teams of the diplomats must be sent every month to the other cities for the convenience of the Overseas Pakistanis.

Lastly, the government should make arrangements for the overseas to cast their votes. A mechanism must be devised so that the Overseas Pakistanis could cast their vote.

Prime minister Imran Khan said, “today if Pakistan is not bankrupt it’s because of our overseas”.

So those who are true rescuer, must get the right to elect their representatives. May Allah bless them all. You people are our true asset.

— The writer is practicing senior Lawyer and human rights activist, based in Lahore.