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Full Version: VIP TREATMENT TO OVERSEAS PAKISTANIS
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The Sindh Government web home page displays an item dated Feb 13, 2009 entitled "Government mulling legislation to allocate seats for Overseas Pakistanis in NA". It narrates brief of a Dubai held a conference about Overseas Pakistanis (OPs) attended by H.E Pakistani Ambassador at Large, H.E Sindh Governor Dr. Ishrat Ul Ebad, H.E Dr. Farooq Sattar Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, the Honourable Karachi City Nazim Mustafa Kama. Amongst many other usual things the Minister for Overseas Pakistanis stated that the OPs would be given a status of a VIP when they come back.

After getting pockets of OPs emptied through emotional slogan of "Qaraz Uttaro", Nawaz Sharif raised a new slogan that Overseas Pakistanis whether holding Pakistani passports or of other nationality were our family members and their home (Pakistan) was open for them all times. For allowing these "family members" to come to their home (Pakistan) he then immediately introduced a Pakistan Origin Card on a huge cost. Thus he showed his inner by imposing a sort of heavy tax without payment of which a Pakistani origin was barred to come to Pakistan. Then in the same series of love for OPs, a new income generating technique was invented namely separate ID Card for Overseas Pakistanis on cost of which the above Conference also showed its concern and desired to reduced its fee. It was perhaps Nawaz Sharif rule, if my memories are not misguiding me, when the Gold and Silver Remittances Cards were introduced during the Budget Speech in the National Assembly. Some incentives were announced for those who remit Rs. 150,000 or above through banking channels. Most of those incentives looked very beautiful in the book as except for a free passport there was nothing practically useful for majority of Pakistanis. The free passport incentive is about Pak Rs. 400 per year (Rs. 2000 passport valid for 5 years). One incentive attached with the Gold Sliver Cards was VIP treatment to such card holders on arrival in Pakistan and would be VIP guests in all gathers in Pakistani Embassies abroad. Has any Pakistani, I mean an ordinary OP like me ever seen or heard of any VIP treatment to anyone on arrival, let alone VIP treatment to himself. That invisible incentive namely VIP was only for those who held Gold or Silver Card which, as appears reading the Governor House website, now the Honourable Dr. Farooq Sattar is going to extend everyone irrespective holding a card or not.

The then Budget Speech of the Federal finance Minister announced these incentives including Card holders to be the VIP Guests in all functions in Pakistan Embassies abroad. I was then working abroad and held the Gold Card. The fact is I had earlier been invited by the Embassy there on 23 March Pakistan Day Receptions but as far as I remember when I got my first Gold Card since then I was never ever got an invitation. After about 6-8 years of introduction of these Cards, I raised the question with the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation when I received a very shameful response. I was informed that though this incentive VIP Guests in functions was announced in the budget speech but later the concerned Ministry did not agree to it. The point was as to why the incentive was announced at the first hand without first getting the approval. Secondly if it was later not approved then as to why it was not made public and was not this effect announced with same fanfare as its introduction was announced. Sometime in 1995-96 OPF released a press huge advertisement both in Pakistan and in foreign papers with its own, Ministry of Labour monograms etc announcing Beach City Housing Scheme in Karachi. The advertisement advised applicants to send OPF Islamabad Rs. 200 (then it was a big amount) for application form. Many of us sent. The third day on announcement of these two senators in the senate raised voice that the Government will not be allowed to establish a "Ayashee Ka Adda" in Karachi in the name of Overseas Pakistanis. The then OPs Minister who was also Chairman of OPF Board then and there clarified that he was not aware of any such scheme. At this the OPF who had got our bank drafts got en-cashed, came out with a usual hanky phpanky that the private company without first informing it released the advertisement. It be noted the address for sending money was that of OPF with its and government monograms.

The ordinary Pakistani worker does not meet any VIP treatment etc. His needs are very minor and limited having no financial repercussions. For example instead of arranging VIP treatment, Dr. Ishrat Ul Abbad will do good if he ensures that his own office gives proper response if any OP contacts him, Chief Minister's office or any other Sindh Government Department with any problem. Not more. His Excellency the Governor, His Excellency Dr. Farooq Sattar, the Honourable Mustafa Kamal can deliver much better if they protect the Overseas Pakistanis housing scheme “Mehran Town” situate in their own city Karachi which is as per press report has started with much speed being encroached upon.