â€˜Overseas Pakistanis and their realigned targetsâ€™
13 December, 2007
By Amjad Malik
Overseas Pakistanis rightly raised voice for effective return of two exiled premiers to and now the time has come for this minority in to rethink and avoid further division at foreign lands. Pakistanis are Pakistanis whichever shape, form and colour they are and due to existing geographical and ethnic cosmopolitan diversity, there is a little room to further alienate them by painting them as pro PPP, PML or Islamic parties Pakistanis and it may not be ideal that Overseas community link sending their remittances only once the party of their choice forms the government. Having said that it was just and fair to continue to supporting civil society, media, lawyers & Pakistani politicians drive for democracy and for restoration of Constitution by lifting emergency once the politics was in exile, and the struggle was justified to assist the return of their beloved leaders to their homeland to continue their politics at home soil but time has come that now the exiled have returned and Constitution is going to be restored along with an electoral schedule, the Overseas Pakistanis return to their original cause too and contribute in making Pakistan standing in the community of nations as a vibrant, progressive, tolerant and democratic state with rule of law & justice with free and responsible media as its salient features. That’s the dream our founding father Barrister Mr. Jinnah saw for the Muslims of subcontinent.
Over 8 million overseas Pakistanis have a major role to play in the development of the country of their origin. They must take part in local political parties and increase their representation in all houses of parliaments and civic centre’s so that their local problems of employment, discrimination, housing, education and fair representation can be raised at the highest level. It will also help their country of origin too if they are stronger in those houses of Parliament in the time of need as was the case on 8th of October 2005 when an earthquake wiped many lives in Kashmir and Balakot and British Pakistani members of Parliament assisted UK Government to raise their aid & assistance from Lakhs to millions. With the population they have in alone, the average seats in Parliament could be over 25 which currently stands at around 5 though the figure is very high as far as Jewish population is concerned though they are little in numbers as compared with us. Secondly, Indian, Chinese and Jewish community do not have their party representations in overseas though all 3 communities too rely on the assistance of their overseas brain economically and intellectually and the level of nationalism is very high in them too. OP’s must take part in activities of OPF (Overseas Pakistani foundation) Pakistan Society, Pakistan welfare Association and all charitable organisations to contribute in society here and abroad positively.
Overseas Pakistanis who send billions of dollars and pounds in foreign exchange to economically aid their country of origin face numerous problems when they live abroad and attempt to visit Pakistan such as Passport renewals, visa & Immigration, airline facility and ticketing problems, buying & selling land and its transfers & following illegal possessions, Vote Registration & and repatriation dreams. They always consider returning home for their old age at some point of their life but feel unwelcomed by the bureaucratic chain. That trend needs to be changed along with fuller cooperation from consulates and High Commissions truly making them public servants thus engaging the indigenous community irrespective of their views and encouraging them on shared objectives and giving them listening ears to their problems. Currently opposite view is non existent in our missions abroad, and ‘either you are with us or you are also non existent’ is a philosophy best suited to them. Criticism to bring about positive change is a sign of healthy society and that positive feed back needs to be given frequently on services, image building and relations with host country and the idea of target based performance needs to be encouraged at all levels.
However, all this requires a political package too, and over 8 million (80,0000) Overseas Pakistanis abroad and in particular around 1 million (100,000) in UK ( should be given a voice at the highest levels & forums, to start with a right to vote & designated seats in both houses of Parliament which will prevent them from indulging in politics back home and it will allow them to concentrate on feeding in their healthy suggestions & representations to their designated representatives who are of Pakistani origin in the houses of Parliament as their chosen, designated or specially appointed representatives as is the case in many countries and in particular the formula successfully working in Azad Kashmir.
British overseas citizens enjoy a right of vote which they exercised by post for many years IN British elections from Hong Kong, & Europe . Overseas Pakistanis enjoyed their right to vote in the Presidential referendum too in 2002 through foreign missions. Representation at Parliament will bring diversity blending it with mixture of knowledge, skill and public voice from overseas as Pakistanis abroad are hard working and value their motherland often more than their counterparts. In 2002, Musharraf Govt. gave women their rightful share in the makeup of national assembly and now is the turn for Pakistani population abroad whose financial contribution in ’s development is without doubt the biggest in respect of foreign remittances. This will change colour and atmosphere of national assembly and will encourage ex patriots to contribute in national politics through a proper channel rather than indulging in national politics sitting abroad. Overseas Pakistanis should also be given due representation opportunity on the representational board of Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) and they should be accommodated as non executive directors of OPF and members of council of OPF too. This way they could truly bring in their first hand experience to the knowledge of OPF and Overseas Ministries with their experience from their respective country and geographical location as problems faced by an overseas Pakistani in gulf is quite opposite to the issues confronted by OP’s in Western World and only opportunity to be represented at those legislative forums could be the way out to address their multi dimension problems and allow to make those bodies truly representational & functional which will help overseas Pakistanis to make proper representations on matters of mutual concerns to the right people at right forums which at the moment goes under the carpet.
Overseas Pakistanis are dying to contribute in their country of origin from investment to increasing commercial exports and from tourism attraction to building the image of Pakistan around the globe along with contributing financially but a befitting response is necessary to allow this one way traffic of love to make it dual carriage way as since 9/11 Pakistanis abroad despite all hardships continued supporting their homeland and are waiting for an affectionate hand on their shoulder by elders of state saying ‘well done’.