By Muhammad Javed
- The first Documenttitled Federal Ombudsman of Pakistan “HANDBOOK FOR OVERSEAS PAKISTANIS” I found recently on our Ministry of Foreign Affairs website surfing the net. It describes in brief what steps for the benefit of the OPs, the Ombudsman Office has (further!) initiated. One such step is titled “Attestation of Documents” advising the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make SOPs for early attestation of documents by the Pakistan Embassies submitted by OPs.
- A few years back, based on long life experience to avoid myself from trouble; pre-hand I requested the Overseas Pakistanis foundation (OPF) Islamabad to let me have full procedure for transfer of a plot. OPF sent me a set of about 8-10 prescribed blank specimens of Documents comprising affidavits, indemnity bonds, statements, declarations etc. It advised me, in writing, on completion to get all those “attested from the Pakistan Embassy” Bahrain. It cost me about Rs. 8000/-. When the completed Documents were sent to OPF Head Office Islamabad, it refused to accept those.
- The Director OPF Lahore told me over the phone that the attestation from the Pakistan Embassies, as per OPF official policy, was not acceptable. According to the Director the attestation from our Embassies was not trustworthy. He advised me to come personally to Lahore which I did. The Director directed me to go to a particular Estate Agent on main Raiwind Road Lahore to get all the said Documents get freshly prepared by the said Estate Agent. At an additional cost of about Rs. 10,000 (Rs. 2 lac travel expense extra) I got the “SAME” Documents prepared (typed) from the said Estate Agent. The Estate Agent told me that he was not formally an official agent of OPF, but confirmed that the Director OPF had facilitated his Agency access to OPF internal Data Server to download the Standard Documents for sale to the customers like me. I observed that after downloading and filling up the blanks, the Estate Agent was feeding in his printer a Justice of Peace Pre-attested blank judicial papers; an illegal practice. I approached the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis Islamabad and the then Prime Minister, President, Anwer Beg PPP Senator and some others that if Embassies attestation was not trustworthy why then the OPF was advising the documents to be attested from there. As usual I never got any response. I approached then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that if its attestation was not recognized why then the Ministry was wasting huge expenses on keeping consular sections abroad and why the Pakistanis abroad were allowed to be pick-pocketed under this modus operandi? No response. Like millions from the silent majority, this senior citizen too wrongly had attached his last hopes from said to be the “new born” judiciary which in fact proved only the “new births” of Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhry and a highly powerful New Force of outlaws uniformed in black coats. Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhary, like our politicians do, boasted more than twice that no one would be allowed to loot the public. I approached him against this official looting but since he remained busy in Swiss money and 2-bottle wine case, he could not find time for this due logical issue affecting thousands of OPs.
- I approached the so called protector of citizens’ rights and the one who officially earlier long claimed himself as “Citizen’s Friend” viz the Federal Ombudsman. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its rejoinder comments submitted that the Embassies attest only the signature of the individual signing a Power of Attorney or an Affidavit and does not take responsibility of the contents. The Ombudsman closed the case on this comment without touching the million worth question then why the people are advised to get Documents attested from the Missions on high cost?
- I have since 10-15 years not got any document like Affidavit etc attested from an Oath Commissioner/Notary Public in Pakistan. The last I remember I paid Rs, 5/- as the Fee for an Affidavit in Karachi. The last, 3-4 years back I got attested an Ombudsman Complaint Form paying Rs. 5 to a Notary Public. Till 10-15 years attestation fee for a Power of Attorney was Rs. 20/-. Since black coats today are one of the most high cost commodity, this fee today might be Rs. 100. An ordinary normal house in Karachi today is worth Rs. One cror. Attestation of its sale/transfer deed might takes Rs.500 maximum. A Notary Public in a day attests at an average 20 docs of different nature charging a total attestation fee say Rs. 1500 maximum unless he was not indulged in illegal activity like attesting back-dated etc. The total amount involved in above 20 docs a day might at an average be involving say Rs. 1.5 cror. Thus based on above “Justice” from the Federal Ombudsman viz agreeing to the argument of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the wisdom of our Federal Ombudsman, a Notary Public or an Oath Commissioner or a Magistrate by charging collective Rs. 1500 Fees “accepts responsibility” of the Rs. 1 to Rs. 2 cror text/content of the docs earlier during the day.
- Recently two letters have surfaced in Pakistan said to be from an Honourable Prince from Qatar. The Pakistani Ambassador to Qatar has attested both. Unfortunate and joking justice is that no one including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said even a word that Documents, as per established legal practice, are attested by Consulate concerned and “his” authorized staff but not at allby an Ambassador anywhere in the world. The second aspect ignored “deliberately” is, that the Pakistan Embassy in Qatar or for that matter in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain can attest documents like Affidavits/Powers issued and signed by Pakistani nationals and not at all by other nationalities. In this case, a document signed by a Qatari national for
submission in another country, as per practice, first needed to be attested by the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Qatar and then the Qatar Embassy in Pakistan and finally the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad before final submission. Last year I needed birth certificate of my daughter for submission here in Bahrain. I went Karachi. Obtained it from Karachi Municipality, got it attested first from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then from Bahrain Embassy in Karachi. I needed, then, to get it attested from Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs here in Bahrain but since my need of submission finished for the time being, I have held it.
- The Second Documentbefore me is a letter from the Banking Mohtasib Karachi. I had filed a complaint against NBP requiring a dormant account finally officially closed. The Banking Mohtasib did not accept my complaint on the ground that the Mohtasib Complaint Form attached with my complaint was un-attested and I was advised to get it attested from a Notary Public. In old good days when banking complaints were handled by the Federal Ombudsman and he too had a Complaint Form, I filed two complaints against NBP without even attaching any Complaint Forms. The then Federal Ombudsman Mr. Justice Sardar Iqbal who believed more on justice rather than bureaucratic-fantasies issued his Decision warning the President of the Bank that in future this complainant had to make any afresh complaint, the Bank President would personally be held responsible.
- On receipt of Federal Ombudsman’s above decision “silently agreed to Foreign Affairs argument”, it refreshed in my mind Justice ® Haziqul Khairi sometime in 1990s addressing a seminar observed, of which in this age of 70 I don’t have reference, that individuals are being appointed Ombudsmen who have no legal knowledge. Had the Ombudsman any remotest vision what “justice” means, he would have, rather than Ministry of Foreign Affairs, treated OPF as defendant raising a million dollar question that if Embassy attestation was not acceptable to it then why in the first place directing OPs to get this attestation.
- A train in India met with an accident early 1970. Late Lal Bahadur Shastri was the then Indian Railway Minister. As Head of the railway ministry accepting his “moral” responsibility, he immediately resigned. A little later a similar accident happened in Pakistan. The opposition in the Assembly demanded from the Railway Minister his resignation. This senior citizen unfortunately in this old age can’t remember the name of then Railways Minister. On the floor of assembly, the Minister touching his hands to his ears as a sign of “توبہ,توبہ” said that he can’t even think of following any deed of a “کافر ”. It was sometime late 90s or early 2000s when resignation from our then Railway Minister was demanded, his reply is on record that “I was not the driver of the train”. Indian Prime Minister, a “کافر ” observing peoples sufferings has ordered his Government to scrap requirement of people getting their documents attested from gazette officers or from other like Notary Public and instead people themselves should attest their own document undertaking to accept responsibility. This “کافر ” issuing above directive is not an Indian 0mbudsman or a mohtasib.
- What worst misfortune of a nation could be that it’s chief