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Overseas Pakistanis, strangers in their own home

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By Muhammad Javed

I am 70 with 50 years rich commercial and administrative experience. I never joined any student union, labour union or officers association including any political party. During middle of my age, a little I had “respect” for Jamat-e-Islami because I never heard of any scandal about its members. Nevertheless I never liked socializing with these people as they “actually” through their attitude treated the nonmembers as “inferior” Muslims.  It is my firm belief being eye-witness that the indiscipline and lawlessness, anarchy, ethnic/linguistic divide in the society as a national character started in 1972 when Bhutto took over. What in 2017 the nation today is ripping, is the fruit of that beginning.  With passage of time each successive government added to that to make the thing more “sweetened” for self-interest.

  1. Pakistanis away from Pakistan for more than six months would not be counted and included in the census starting next month headline of a news item reads. Accordingly seven million Pakistanis working mostly in the Middle East, according to the news detail, would not be counted as part of “country’s population”.
  2. Since mid-1970s each successive Government’s slogan more loudly showing its love for Overseas Pakistanis (OPs) but practically did nothing except squeezing them.  Bhutto did a marvelous thing by opening the doors of Passport Offices to every one while Main Nawaz Sharif created a “General” green channel.  The score of both leaders thus stands still to only one good.  The worst damage to the OPs cause goes to the credit of Nawaz Sharif.  After successful nuclear tests in May 1998, the US imposed sanctions on Pakistan.  The country badly needed money for which Nawaz Sharif announced its famous قرض اتارو ملک سنوارو scheme. The whole nation with open hearts participated in it.  The specific emphasis of Nawaz Sharif appeal in this regard was to the Overseas Pakistanis.  Seeing the unexpected emotional response, in order to en-cash these emotion, he called an Overseas Pakistanis Convention in Islamabad attended by thousands from all over the world.  Chairing the Convention, he announced in special words that the Pakistanis abroad whether holding Pakistani or foreign passport all are “our family members” and the doors of their home-country are always open for them.  After the Convention when maximum possible had been pulled out from these OPs, he immediately imposed a “tax/levy” on these so called “Family Members” viz a special separate ID card for OPs on huge unbearable initial/recurring cost.  Despite cries not just from the OPs but also in the first and sole single time in Pakistan’s history the strongest protest by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nawaz Sharif showed no sympathy.  It was Zafarullah Jamali who as PM when learnt about high cost, came to rescue of the OPs and reduced considerably the fees.  Thus in his practical action, Nawaz Sharif closed the doors of their own homes on these “family members” without having paid for “Entry Card” to enter in homeland.  Nawaz Sharif also under one label or the other has always, throughout, facilitated the business class and burdened more the ordinary.  In line to his habit effective from 1st July 2015 he imposed a new levy/tax/surcharge on OPs which is surely the “only and only” levy/tax/surcharge world over applicable only on poor and not the rich.  Every Pakistani sending upto approx. Rs. 20,500 through legal channel to Pakistan is taxed about Rs. 300/-.  Those earning higher have been exempted from this tax.  When I go to send Rs. 20,000 occasionally to a relative, the Bank staff like to others often advised me “sir make it Rs. 21,000/- then you will save from this Nawaz Sharif tax and this “tax amount” would go to the pocket of your beneficiary. And always then I agree to their advice.
  3. So now Nawaz Sharif in line with his ever policy of practically not doing any real good to OPs, has expelled ( عاق) his own “Family-Members” from the family tree (country population).  Not strange at all.  With each passing day, repeat each passing day, my disliking to Nawaz Sharif grows an inch further and increases use of my fingers on my TV remote control.

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