By Usman Manzoor
ISLAMABAD: Top diplomats posted in the Pakistan Embassy in Spain have quietly imposed their own regulations in connection with the use of funds meant for the transportation of the bodies of the poor Pakistanis, who usually die there while earning foreign exchange for their country.
This development has caused resentment in the Pakistani community in Spain. Some members of the community have told ‘The News’ that one Hussain Shah of Mardan died of heart failure in Madrid on December 24, 2007 and the Pakistani community in Madrid approached the Pakistan Embassy for transportation of the body to Pakistan but Ms Humaira Hassan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Spain, refused to meet the community members and also refused to pay for the transportation while in the past the embassy had been paying for the same purpose.
The Pakistan Embassy in Spain has rejected the allegations, saying there were no funds available with the embassy when Hussain Shah passed away in December last year. M. Ali Khan, a resident of Peshawar who works in Madrid, told ‘The News’ via telephone that he, along with 35 other community members, approached the Pakistan Embassy for transportation of the body of the deceased Pakistani to his hometown but they were not only denied the money but the ambassador also did not meet them.
He said that the Spanish company, which transported the body of Hussain Shah, asked for money after one month and he along with other community members collected the amount and paid it to the company.
“But when we demanded the money from the embassy, the first secretary Javed Ahmad Umrani said that if payment has been made, then the matter is over.” He said that in the past during the tenure of Ambassador Hassan Sarmad, the embassy used to pay US$1,500 to US$2,700 as transportation for body.
Ali Khan said that the embassy had issued over 50,000 passports last year and there were over 20m Euros in the embassy’s fund but it was denying a nominal amount to transport the bodies to Pakistan while the rent of ambassador’s house was 7,500 Euros per month. Ali Khan said that the community members had to wait for four to six months for a meeting with the ambassador.
Javed Ahmad Urmani, when approached by this correspondent via telephone, said that the embassy had no funds in its account to arrange transportation of bodies of deceased Pakistanis. Talking about the one particular case, Javed said that in 2007 the embassy ran short of funds while bodies were sent home on the expenses of the embassy every now and then. He said that he never said that the embassy made a mistake while financing the transportation of bodies to Pakistan in the past and termed this allegation false and malicious. When asked about the ambassador’s calling the community illiterate, Javed replied that no ambassador could afford to speak like this.
When asked about the community’s non-access to the ambassador, Javed replied that the community members wanted to meet the ambassador in personal capacity but the embassy wanted to have a collective meeting, therefore, some community members complained about the non-availability of the ambassador.
Javed Ahmad Urmani lamented the role of the media when a few Pakistanis who were arrested on the charge of terrorism in 2004, were declared innocent and were released by the Spanish court. He said that when those innocent Pakistanis were arrested, the newspapers carried banner headlines while not a single paper carried the news of their release.
Courtesy: The News, 26/4/2008