According to a statement on 03rd September 2016 by the Overseas Pakistanis Grievance Commissioner, the Pakistani Ambassadors around the world “have started” listening to the complaints of Overseas Pakistanis (OPs) on weekly basis without any prior appointment. “Have started”! Is it just another paper-worth announcement like those often coming from the ruling class or hopefully by chance, the lucky luck has really by mistake smiled this time? Why has the Grievance Commissioner to announce this scheme now on 3rd September 2016? Is it because the same scheme announced earlier by the Grievance Commissioner did not see the light of the day from the hands of our brave functionaries or its reason was what ex-President Asif Ali Zardari showed his grave concern, in his own words, “as to why the Federal Ombudsman had become gradually ineffective”. When Mr. Zardari expressed his concern to the Parliament, if memories of this senior citizen are not bent to let him down, the present Honorable Federal Ombudsman was then perhaps the Principal Secretary to Mr. Zardari!
- Same scheme of the Grievance Commissioner was earlier published by all national Dailies on 25 January 2016 quoting him that the Foreign Division had been directed that all Ambassadors allocated one day weekly for personal hearing of the complaints. Is the September re-announcing the same scheme, somewhat an admission that the Foreign Office did not implement, in letter and spirit, the orders issued in January? Would it now? Better skip it. The “significant”, however, is both times these were presented in the presence of media.
- There are approximately ten or so organs created in the name of Overseas Pakistanis for solving their problems and welfare. Practically all those have proved generally as employment exchange for dear ones while the fate of the OPs always remained the same rather worsened.
- Just one single example will suffix. My wife, in August 2015 travelled to Karachi only to fetch Board Certificates from her Saddar UBL Locker. Instead of Certificates, she found her locker transferred to Nazimabad area and that now she needed to apply for Zonal Chief’s NOC, after which to take with her an officer of the Saddar Branch to the new Branch to complete other formalities there. According to Saddar Branch it all was to take two weeks. My wife knowing it could in effect take a month immediately came back to Bahrain. Since August 2015 which door we have so far not knocked at including that of the H.E the PM Nawaz Sharif directly as well as through Senator General Qayyum via Mr. Muhammad Usman (local community elder) who claims General was his good friend, but till this moment my wife does not know in which Branch out of 8-10 Branches in vast Nazimabad area her locker today was lying with dark future. My wife is an OP and that is the real state of OPs.
- We are a herd, living on hope over hope; fresh hope on each lip-opening. Let us hope the present move would see the light of the day. Can this senior citizen with a 30 plus year standing as an OP respectfully suggest that this new Ambassador’s complaint hearing system is put under the Forum of Pakistan Ombudsman rather than with the Federal Ombudsman Office who, according to ex-President Asif Ali Zardari has become ineffective. Reason being that if under Federal Ombudsman, the Ambassador would receive complaints only against the Federal Government Departments whereas most of the problems relate to provincial/local levels. As such to make the initiative more successful the Forum is involved which could forward the complaints received from an Ambassador to its Members concerned. The Forum to this layman has the capacity to deal it as it had earlier, to my standing, the World Bank donation as a support behind it. Secondly, each Ambassador is made bound to display on Mission’s website his complaint hearing weekly hours. Thirdly, it be ensured that in no case except when the Ambassador concerned is out of station, these complaints are invariably heard and received personally by the Ambassador and in no case by a subordinate. Finally, on the concerned Mission’s website a brief of each complaint received and its final resolution is displayed similarly as the so called dictator General Pervaiz Musharraf courageously did on the Presidential Website.
- Would the “Ambassadors” in all these 116 countries give regular scheduled time to real OPs to hear their complaints? To this senior citizen, never in reality, except for “in the books”. Would Ambassadors in capitals like Washington, London, Reyadh etc actually give this regular time? If someone is thinking so, he needs soul searching. Top senior elite citizens here in Bahrain like Messrs Muhammad Usman, Sajid Sheikh, Shuja-ul-Islam, Mohammad Saleem, Khawaja Abdul Latif, Iftikhar Loan etc would remember the ex-Pakistani Ambassador saying in a selected invited audience in the Pakistan Club “my doors are open 24-hours, anyone can see me from 11 to 12 morning without appointment”. Everyone of us amusing ourselves saw the face of each other.
- Those blessed by God for real true honest service need no directives like that from a Ministry, a Minister or any Ombudsman. They do so because God had bless them with such a spirit and upright parents grew them up. It was December 1982 I had only two months ago came to Bahrain. I knew nothing about Bahrain. I had to get a Document attested. My senior arranged that when an office car from my Isa Town office goes to Manama it takes me to Pakistan Embassy which then was situate near Ummal Hassam in an old house. Since neither had I resource for a taxi nor did I knew the roads, my senior advised me to remain in Embassy when at 1300 when he finished his duty he would pick me up from the Embassy. I presented my papers at about 08.15. I was told same would be ready by 1300 hrs. I had no alternate but to keep sitting there. Embassy was in a very small building with very little space for visiting public. There were only three visitors chairs near the stairs. I sat there. Around 09.00 a tall gentleman wearing shalwar kameez and newly introduced Wasket came down the stairs. Hearing the footsteps two three staffers like driver Hafeez Khan stopped chatting and stood silent. I also stood up in respect and said “Assalamo Alikum Sir”. He responded and went to the wide public dealing window. After two three minutes he went back upstairs. At about 11.00 the driver told the staff “Sahib was going to so and so place” and everyone waited him to pass by. He came down the stairs. Passing by me he abruptly stopped, stared at me, turned his face towards counter and questioned “Zaidi why this man was still sitting here”? Zaidi answered his document is to be attested. The officer in a stern tune retorted “Zaidi I have told you if some outsider is not sitting with me, bring such works same time and don’t cause these poor keep waiting”. Zaidi immediately like a Gin came out from behind the counter with my papers which the officer signed standing near the exit and left for outside. Then early 80s, there were in the Embassy no computers, no spacious embassy space, a very limited staff but Pakistani population much more. December 1982 there was no Ombudsman. Ombudsman took birth March 1983. Senior Pakistanis in Bahrain would confirm this ad recall that after that tall gentleman Shaban Uppal and HE late Muhammad Afzaal the then Ambassador, no real term team was seen ever seen in Bahrain. Last month on a death related case I had to visit Embassy at 01.30 pm when showing not even the remotest sign of respect for “age of this elder” or for the dead, the Counter clerk dismissed me in a most crude tune “embassy is closed, come tomorrow”
- Last year a very senior and famous Management Researcher started his article that at 11.00 am he went to a Government office in Karachi where the Officer concerned had till not arrived. I did not know the researcher personally but only through his worthy writings. I wrote him for the first time, a small personal note. I suggested him that he makes it a formal complaint with the Federal or Sindh Ombudsman against the officer concerned depending upon the Department concerned only to find at the end of the day that how biggest liar (the Researcher-complainant) he himself was. The researcher wrote me back his small note it was the Sindh Ombudsman he visited. With much fanfare, similarly as with this directive of Ambassadors to listen complaints, July 11, 2014 the Federal Ombudsman directed all public utilities to fix the due date for consumers to pay their bills up to the seventh day instead of the last dates of each month. KE (KESC), in compliance, same July issued two bills one with last date, as previously, as 28 July and 2nd30 July. It is now more than two years KE is still issuing invariably its bills with previous practice of last dates as 28th 29th or 30th. My latest Bill for my Karachi home is before me with last date as 30 Sep 2016 showing teeth to the Order of the Ombudsman of the land. This senior citizen wonders if it is to show its might as a foreign investor. But it does not surprise this senior citizen with 45 plus year rich experience that when the Federal Ombudsman does not care to see if his directives were implemented or passed up deaf ears, then why would those who are to implement will care or be afraid of. Directive over directive at least in the society generally we live in can’t work unless, unless, as a first corrective step, eg Ombudsman takes a practical stern action against his own office official who dealt with utility bills file but did not care to see and update about the implementation to the ombudsman. If an official of the Sindh Ombudsman till 11.00 does not come to office, how can a directive of the Sindh Ombudsman warning Sindh Government Employees to adhere strictly to the officially prescribed timing can expect abeyance?
- Whosoever worth of his salt is and had not termed the OPs as the real ambassadors of Pakistan. Three months back Punjab Commissioner for Overseas Pakistan addressing a function arranged in the name of OPs stated Overseas Pakistanis were the “real ambassadors”. So now Pakistani Ambassadors would hear the complaints of “Real Ambassadors”!!!
- For sincerely, affectionately and in practice solving the problems of “real” OPs, we don’t need any directives, any OPF, any Commissioner or Grievance Commissions but posting abroad of Shaban Uppals and Muhammad Afzaals; God blessed honest government servants otherwise it is all paper worth lip service similarly as “in papers” the economy is developing fast but what was the practical effect of that on we the commoners? The Grievance Commissioner of Overseas Pakistanis, at present since some time, is the most focal person in press, radio, on his Facebook keeping “speaking” about the Ops but what is the Practical? For the last 10 days the official website http://overseas.federalombudsman.gov.pk/index.php/online-complaintsof course created and being maintained on huge national expense, for the last 8 days is not working. This is self-explanatory practical side. On the Main Government of Pakistan website similarly incurring huge expense http://pakistan.gov.pk had two links for Overseas Pakistanis vis Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resources Development http://www.ophrd.gov.pk/ and Overseas Pakistanis & Resources Human Development Division http://www.ophrd.gov.pk/ . Mashallah, since these two highest Departments are, as in books, day and night worried about the welfare of the Overseas Pakistanis, hence their two websites for the last many months similarly are not working. For all these three webs not functioning on 18th, 19th, 20th,, 21st & 22nd September I have with me the Print Outs, 23rd morning Grievance Commissioner whose reference is almost in all print announcing the scheme this morning 23rd Sep still is not working (I can’t have print out of it). In simple words it means like one philanthropist “through media so others could know loudly” announces free dinner is available in his kitchen for hungry but in his own home there is no gas to cook the food. A few years back the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee in its Report had rightly stated the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, Foreign Affairs and OPF etc have no interest with the OPs whereas the Indian Government was doing so and so. .
PS: I am today in the age group generally called “with legs hanging in the grave”. Javed Hafeez ex Pakistani Ambassador recently wrote, one above 60 becomes a “Baba” when generally in this age one does not generally remember what he had in the morning in breakfast (he wrote this in the background of induction of retired as advisers in the Federal Ombudsman Office). As such in this age group not just my physical but mental condition also, I realize has become quite fragile hence due to this natural phenomena I don’t exactly remember but my vivid memories are that I have often heard in the Talk Shows, that Nadirpur was inaugurated twice and recently another mega project somewhere near Multan has gone through inauguration the third time.