TIT FOR TAT

Muhammad Javed

Yesterday ruling party’s Mushahidullah stated that the Government policy is Tit for Tat (v/s Taliban!). Three days ago the vocal darling of the mini screen the veteran politician from Rawalpindi who being born among the masses, still living amongst the masses and thus still speaks language of the masses, answering to the host Anchor termed that our Foreign Division was ruled today by “Siyassi Mayrasees”. The Anchor had questioned the guest about his recent off loading from PIA flight despite having the Boarding Card. 

2. Before my service abroad finished last year and I returned back home in Karachi, I was working in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Amongst other jobs my main duty was visiting different Embassies like UK, US, Germany, Swiss, Italy, Russia, China, Azerbaijan etc in connection with official work like arranging Visas for the highest echelon of a Ministry I was then working for. The whole year I visited different Embassies but from March to June nearing holiday period I frequented even two three embassies a day. I always found myself at cool ease visiting any Embassy except for the Pakistan Embassy which I usually had to visit twice or thrice a year for official work. In almost all Embassies I was welcomed with smiles. Knowing for whom my visit was these Embassies usually extended me their helping hand and sometime ignored small shortfalls. Even, if needed, I visited these Embassies without prior appointments.

3. Last year a little earlier before release from the service I had to visit the Pakistan Embassy for Visa endorsement on a Diplomatic Passport. The Passport holder was not just an ordinary diplomatic staff but a VVIP. The visa application also carried a government letter. In my 25 years in this line of duty it was first time that the Embassy official told me that the Visa can’t be issued Gratis and I would have to pay. I had not demanded it Gratis rather in routine pushed the documents through the window, I could not believe my ears. Incidentally a day earlier I was in the Indian Embassy presenting 3 diplomatic passports and one ordinary one for an accompanying housemaid. Knowing how important the “friendship” was, the Indian Consular told me “Javed Sahib, no need Visa Fee for the housemaid it would also be Gratis”.

4. Knowing well the atmosphere instantly I paid the visa fee demanded, which was the highest rate ever witnesses by me before. After having paid and getting receipt thereof just casually posing myself as an ignorant person I mentioned to the official that as a layman I had heard there was no fee for the diplomatic and special passports. The official told me that it had now been imposed on instructions from Foreign Division Islamabad which had instructed invariably to charge from Bahrainis. He added that the Bahrainis had charged Visa Fee from a Pakistani hence this Fee is being charged. I was told this was “tit for tat”.

5. It did not surprise me at all if the Bahraini authorities in any case had charged Visa fee from Pakistani diplomatic or blue passport (special). After all, I already knew “in line of my duty” that the governments world over were aware that Pakistan had issued about 2000 blue passports mostly to undeserving people according to press articles even to a Barber, daughter-in-laws etc. Hence to me on such a passport if a fee was charged it was not so arguable but a “tit for tat” in diplomacy?
6. For almost two months I could not find courage to demand from the Passport holder the visa fee paid by me as it was too shameful for me to face him imaging how would he amusingly see towards me learning Pakistan had charged a fee which none in the world ever earlier charged him.
7. My 25 years field experience is we can never match the standards of the diplomatic staff of other countries like eg. India.

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