By Muhammed Javed – 29 August 2016
Mathew Craig Barrett, the US National, black listed by the Government of Pakistan, obtained a four-year multiple-entry Pakistani Visa “within 24 hours” from the Pakistan Consulate in Houston. Earlier, a few years back he remained in hiding in Islamabad. A father and his son, both FIA Immigration officials “both at the same time on duty” at the airport cleared him despite their computer cautioned them handling that passenger. Etc. Earlier a few years back the US authorities had tipped Pakistan that its Mission in USA had issued Visas to some “doubtful” people, inquiry started which as usual “silently died”.
- Bahraini nationals including Pakistani origins, are given visa in 4-5 days, which till in the recent past used to be issued invariably next day and sometime even the same afternoon. In 2008 friendship between Bahrain and Turkey witnessed growth. The Turkish authorities in token of practical action despite the fact there was no written agreement to that effect yet, eased visa facility for Bahrainis viz visa on arrival. Friendship between Bahrain and Pakistan was inked few years back with about 30 MOUs but practical side?
- A month back I approached our Embassy at about 01.45 pm with filled in Visa Application Forms in respect of a Pakistani Origin and his two children. His mother had died one and a half hour ago. Knowing well the atmosphere generally, I entered with pre-arranged, as tradition is generally a tool in the society we live in, a “high influentialسفارش”. The counterman without even having the routine remotest courtesy of reciting انا لله وانا اليه راجعونand without any sign of remotest natural remorse or any care what was the age of the person standing in front of the counter retorted “embassy is closed تم کل آنا .Since I had earlier experience of getting Pakistani Visas just on the basis of Application Forms and photographs, this time too I had with me just Forms and Photographs. But this time, on a death related case I was asked to attach copies of CPRs, birth certificates of two children. And hold your breath my dear Pakistanis, the copy of marriage Certificate?? You don’t believe me!! This senior citizen in his this old age can’ holding Holy Quran in his hand, can take solemn oath that it was demanded and I deposited this marriage certificate. Leave apart that it was a death related case which needed a little lacking humanity, yet it is a wonder what marriage certificate had to do with all this since wife of my colleague was not applying at all for Visa. I was asked by the concerned staffer when this death was “expected” for the last two weeks, why did not you kept “ready” all these photocopies. As the dead was not just mother of my colleague but also the wife of my 33 years old close friend and I myself was still trying to overcome the grief to accomplish the work related to repatriation to Pakistan the dead body, prudence demanding, I could not counter question the said staffer that had his/her mother been since two weeks in coma, death looming over her, had this staffer taken measurement of the coffin box, made pre-hand visa application copies ready foreseeing the death of his/her mother?
- I would never rest of my life ever understand as to what was the real need of the copy of marriage certificate particularly (i) in this death related case and (ii) when the wife of my colleague was not applying at all for visa (iii) in our beloved country where a black-listed can get visa in 24 hours, 172 Indian nationals without visa December 2015 including Indian Intelligence Chief so often threatening Pakistan can land at Lahore Airport, enjoy a home dinner and go back.
- Duringقرض اتاروNawaz Sharif chaired an Overseas Pakistanis Convention in Islamabad attended by Overseas Pakistanis (OPs) from all over the world. About 25 people from Bahrain including Mr. Muhammad Usman, Sajjad Sheikh, Khawaja Abdul Latif, Shujah-ul-Islam etc attended that. Nawaz Sharif in presence of thousands announced that OPs all over the world whether holding Pakistani nationality or that of any other country were “our family members” and doors of their homes (Pakistan) were always open for them. As Nawaz Sharif’s words generally have different meanings than those look nakedly, soon after this announcement he closed those always open door by introducing NICOP and Pakistan Origin Cards. The black listed US national earlier already arrested in Pakistan due to his suspicious security-related activities, is granted visa not just in 24-hours but also a 4-years visa. But the “family-members” (Pakistani origins holding other nationalities but legally still legal Pakistani nationals) get maximum one year Visa for their motherland.
- I informed the above to Mr. Muhammad Usman, who still is taken as one of the community leader, thought today he was now only for the elite class, he did not even acknowledged me and I assume he must had damn cared even reading. Hoping, today, from Mr. Afzal Bhatti whom God has blessed with Honour of being Member of Overseas Pakistanis Advisory Committee that he would ponder on this, is just hoping for the hope. About five or so years back Mr. Bhatti was not that “high up” as he today is. One Friday very early morning I received a phone call that the father of a colleague died due to heart attack. Immediately I was in Riffa in his small home where sat 5-7 other “Pashtun” family members. These semi-literate were pondering that it was the Friday and Friday Saturday were holiday so repatriation of the body to Peshawar was to take time. One of them was saying that the main issue was NOC from the Pakistan Embassy which if obtained; he can speed up rest of the formalities. I do remember it was about 08.00 morning winter. Without any hesitation that it was a holiday, I phoned Mr. Afzal Bhatti who then in practice was a poor man’s real friend in need. I narrated this to him. After about 10 minutes he rang me that my people can reach Embassy at 09.30, so and so named officer would be there to do the needful. And all was really done in about an hour. Next day Saturday the body was flown off. That colleague of mine and his near ones still remember me for this – in fact and in reality it was nice humanity work from Mr. Afzal Bhatti; but he was not elite then. He loved real humane work and not just photo op.
- This senior citizen with 45 plus years rich practical experience would not be surprised at all, and in fact expect so, if in the near future no death of anyone for issuance of routine NOC for repatriation of body, the Birth Certificate of the Deceased is also not demanded on the ground to provide that the dead was ever “actually born”.