OPF is finalizing arrangements for a two day Overseas Pakistanis Convention (OPs Convention) to be held in the last week of December 2017.
- Onقرض اتارو ملک سنوارو Nawaz Sharif called an Overseas Pakistanis Convention in Islamabad in 1997. Pakistanis from the world over attended. Nawaz Sharif chaired the Convention. Addressing, he said that a Pakistani whether holding Pakistani passport or a foreign one, was our family member and the doors of his home (Pakistan, the motherland) are always open for him. He added that the OPs can buy anything (factories, projects) even can run the Embassies. Soon after this Convention, Nawaz Sharif imposed a new “tax” on these family members viz separate National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) on a very high cost. With introduction of this card, the Pakistanis (declared by him the family members!!!) could not come to Pakistan without having that card. Thus, he practically closed the doors of their home for these “family members”. Nawaz Sharif defended it on the ground that the foreign authorities can’t read Urdu CNIC, hence English one was needed. I am abroad since 34 years. No authority in any country abroad ever asked me to produce my Pakistani ID card. Likewise, when I am in Pakistan no Pakistani authority like Bank, Passport Office ever asked me to produce my foreign National ID Card. Parliament’s Public Account Committee once said that our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis (OPF) had no interest with the Pakistanis working abroad whereas the India was doing this and that. It was the first occasion in the Pakistan history that even our Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized severely by the Public Accounts Committee protested and highly recommended to desist from introducing NICOP. When the rulers saw that the idea of NICO generated a good money to cover up their and their junkets foreign tours, buying luxury cars etc, a new ID Card “Pakistan Origin Card” was introduced which brought them more money.
- The above 1997 Convention was held on the directive of Nawaz Sharif. Now the forthcoming Convention is planned by the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) which has in practical terms during the last 40 years done nothing, practical for the “collective” betterment of the majority ordinary OPs community except for one or two housing schemes. Yes, it had, though, helped in some individual personal problems of OPs like FIR, school problem etc. Its actual deed and performance can be judged from one or two examples. One; Senate of Pakistan in its report stated that OPF spent Rs. 350 million on development of its Islamabad Housing Scheme whereas practically “there was no sign of development on the site”. Where practically went this money? Lifestyle!!! Two: an International Call House created in 2012 by a Mafia. Rate of income telephone calls to Pakistan increased exorbitantly. The High Court in 2015 abolished this ICH. Extra charged levied, we the OPs still are paying. In whose pockets these are “now” going no one knows. OPF said to be working for the welfare of we the OPs is completely silent in getting these rates back to 2012 level. Three; Remittances to Pakistan through banking is claimed and had actually since General Musharraf rule been totally free of any Fee. Since 1st July 2015, very silently a new levy on remittances was imposed. It is affecting only the low paid unskilled Pakistanis; the majority in the Middle East. Banking staff generally sarcastically verbally introduced to us as “Nawaz Sharif Tax”. While anchors, so called voice raisers for OPs like Imran Khan or Sheikh Rasheed remained silent on this injustice, the OPF said to be protector of our rights is totally silent on it does affect a large army sitting in its offices. Four: Investment by Pakistanis through banking channel is claimed free of any taxes. OPs have investments in saving accounts, shares, National Savings. Withhold tax is deducted whereas this investment is “foreign investment”. OPs by law are not required to file annual Income Tax Returns for their earning abroad. Recently withholding tax for “Filers” have been raised to 15% and for “Non Filers” 20%. OPs despite not required to file Income Tax Returns would be treated as “Non Filers” and additional Tax. And so called protector of rights viz “large army enjoying in OPF”, would as usual remain silent. Last but not the least: while I am writing this, today, repeat today Saturday the 21st October 2017 first news is that by 2023, more 500,000 Chinese professionals would had arrived in Gawadar. In talk shows one often hears e.g. number of Chinese faces in Islamabad continuously and gradually is increasing. And the second news today is that OPF is going to open classes for Chinese language. For whom? For Pakistani public to speak with these ever increasing Chinese expatriates coming to Pakistan. Or should it open Urdu language course for these Chinese? Purpose is “spending” money. More export of Pakistani manpower abroad, or more import of manpower from abroad!!! Should the large army housed in OPF on full expense of we the OPs contribute towards sending more Pakistanis abroad or facilitate on, again, on our expense expanding Chinese language whereas we know all China exports manpower does not import at all expatriates.
- Sajjad Hyder Yaldram about a century ago wrote a very famous ever alive master piece titled مھجےمیرے دوستوں سے بچاوَ. I pray “God save us, we the ordinary Overseas Pakistanis, from any future OP Convention آمين يا رب العالمين.