USING THE SHOULDERS OF OVERSEAS PAKISTANIS


By Muhammad Javed from Bahrain

  1. This old man saw Pakistan being put on the run towards destruction by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1972.  It was the first this old man while young at the time, saw that Law was what was a “Red coloured party ID Card”.  Bhutto heirs and Sharifs with more vigour, added their shares in this run up.  Imran Khan, though generally is said to be a bit different from them, yet it is a naked fact that he is following the same path, results of which of course would take time to surface.
  2. Since about a month, the evening talk shows are almost unanimous in one thing; viz that like what happened with Zia, Musharraf,Zardari, Sharif, the highly expert politicians-bureaucrats have successfully surrounded Imran Khan too giving their own styled “self-interest” advises and plans.
  3. Using the shoulders of Overseas Pakistanis(OPs), is decades old proven phenomena.  For example; a special weekly shuttle flight Karachi-Dubai “as advertised; in the name of Overseas Pakistanis” was announced. It was an attractive flight for white collar Pakistanis.  Its fare was about 50% of normal price with the condition that the passenger would carry a 7 kg hand-carry only but no unaccompanied baggage.  As a matter of fact, this flight should have been“baggage” free but CAA Dubai record showed the flight taking off from Dubai with full capacity load.  About a dozen same very faces (khapias) travelled weekly and particular custom officials were posted on the flight day.  This flight ran about 6-8 months.  When the newspapers touched this subject, it was cancelled, perhaps to adopt some new modus operandi.  On Qaraz Uttaro, Nawaz Sharif’s announcing open policy for Overseas Pakistanis to bring and take back foreign currency undeclared and unchecked was a similar gun fired from the shoulders of OPs with devil interest.
  4. No one wants to give Overseas Pakistanis any real material incentives except for fooling them.  Nawaz Sharif fooled them saying that all were “family members” and doors of “home” were ever open for them whether holding Pakistani or foreign passport.  Within two months, he imposed a renewable heavy levy on the same very “family members” in the shape of separate English ID Card for them and closed the doors of “home”on them if without new card.  When the so called Foreign Remittance Cards were announced once again fooling the OPs, the Finance Minister in his budget speech announced that those holding Golden Card would be the “guest” in all functions held in Pakistani Embassies abroad.  I never got this invitation.  On raising the issue I was told, in writing, that though it was announced in the assembly but the Finance Ministry did not approve it(Before approval announcement?).
  5. Three or four months after my first time arrival abroad, DG National Savings along with his team arrived on a Middle East tour.In the jam pack gathering in Pakistan Club Bahrain, he announced that the Government was soon introducing special package for the Overseas Pakistanis.  During the last 35 years, almost every year I read such an announcement never to see light of the day.  Imran Khan immediately on taking over announced Euro Bond.  Where are those?
  6. Why all this? Because no one wants real savings of Pakistanis abroad.  Old age must be failing me, but it was around 1987-89 (I might have press clipping).  There were some sorts of difficulties created by the international lenders like IMF/WorldBank.  A delegation under Dy. Governor SBP arrived in Dubai in search of loans.  While it was being negotiated with some private lenders at about 18% interest rate, the Pakistani businessmen in Dubai arranged a meeting in Pakistan Association and offered the team loan from them in the shape of investment in National Savings with 4% higher than normal NS rates.  The team declined this offer.
  7. Recently meeting with Anchors, PM Imran Khan advised the OPs to keep their money in accounts in Pakistan.  As ignorant Imran Khan generally is believed, he does not know that for the last 10-15 years no Overseas Pakistani sitting abroad can open a Bank Account in Pakistan. This facility is available only for Ishaq Dars orQazis.  25 years sitting in Bahrain, I used my bank account but recently HBL Samanabad Branch Karachi refused to send me my new cheque book on the grounds that it can’t be sent on an international address.  As an Overseas Pakistani, I am sure Mr. Imran Khan knows well as he himself had long been an Overseas Pakistani, that an OP lives and resides at an international address.  India allows its nationals working abroad to open while sitting abroad two bank accounts; one normal local resident account and second non-resident account in which rate of profit is more than normal bank account.
  8. It is today beyond any doubt that record of our Government since long is twisted and fudged.  No further deliberation on this issue needs argument in the presence that Pakistan had to pay heavy fine for submitting fudged figures by our Finance Minister to the World Bank.  When no true factual data of an organisation, department or a country is available, no fruitful planning can be chalked out.   Every one worth of his salt, always claimed his“contributions” in more remittances to the country.  This old man with his own eyes long ago saw official letters from Pakistan Embassy to both Pakistani banks and foreign money-exchange companies in which Pakistanis worked.  These Embassy letters directed to provide it the monthly figures of their remittances to Pakistan.  I once asked one Manager why did he obey such an illegal order and provided confidential information to a third party.  His answer was, he initially refused when his wife working as PIA ground hostess in Karachi was transferred to Peshawar and he had to succumb.  Later I found this was also being done in other countries.   It reminded me late Irshad Ahmed Haqqani’s article on Pakistan Community Schools abroad in which he wrote that our diplomats sent“سچی جھوٹی “ reports of their “performance” to Islamabad to get extension.  MD OPF claimed that due to his office remittances increased.  There can’t be any more nonsense. Pakistan Remittances Initiative (PRI) was established in the SBP in the name of remittances the practical job of which is Nil.  It was in effect created to create good jobs for some dear ones.  A scandal surfaced but Since PRI high ups were influence backed, investigation report never saw the light of the day.  The role in the remittances is only and only that of Banks while embassies, OPF, PRI all are liars.
  9. Sudo دانشور in talk shows keep telling how “Hundi” can be curtailed.  Such people have only book knowledge.  There was a time when a Pakistani wandered abroad from one Bank to another and one exchange company to the other in search of “discounted” rates for their remittances.  Since about fifteen years, this has finished as today rate from Pakistani banks are cheaper than other modus operandi.  Bank remittance is much cheaper than when I had to purchase Pakistani cash currency here for travel to Pakistan.  “ہنڈیshops” have almost disappeared. 
  10. Our talk-show “دانشور ”open their big mouths suggesting for increasing remittances, Pakistan need to export more manpower.  These big mouth openers have no touch with real naked facts on earth.  Number of Pakistanis in the Middle East has drastically decreased contrary to OPF or our other Government records.  New and new fees/levies on foreign work force in the Middle East are being imposed.  Cost of living has increased manifolds.  All this has adversely affected the savings and ultimate remittances to Pakistan. New recruitment of Pakistanis has been curtailed down.  Recently Bahraini national press more than thrice published that there was a ban on issuance of visas to Pakistanis.  Pakistan Embassy, as usual, refuted it. The same press carried the news Shah Mahmood Qureshi our Foreign Minister speaking on phone with his Bahraini counterpart recently showed his concern on visa ban to Pakistanis.  Most of the remittances figures announced monthly don’t represent the true “home remittances”.  Rather much of it includes what Ayan Alis bring abroad and is sent back to Pakistan under the label of remittances.  The naked fact is today for real remittances to Pakistan, is left which can be easily said “تلپھٹ”.
  11. Chairing a meeting, H.E Imran Khan wished the other day, “major incentives” for Overseas Pakistanis. Reading of details not just gave self-shame to this too old man, but re-confirmed the already confirmed that this unfortunate nation still is not in safe hands.  There is a popular old saying that unless dead dog from the stinking well was removed, draining out just the dirty water brings no relief.  The members in this meeting were amongst others (a) Mr.Tariq Bajawa who allegedly played main role in blocking US$200 billion inflow from Switzerland and whom Rauf Klasra terms Hit-man of Pakistan and  (2)  Dr. Ishrat  Hussain whose performance as Governor SBP fetched columns and who in his own book termed Shahbaz Sharif world’s best administrator who removed darkness from Pakistan.
  12. PM Imran has desired more incentives to OPs but if one reads the brief of it, it appears Imran Khan does not know what does“remittances” and “incentives to OPs” mean. The meeting has announced more incentives, in simple word, to banks and agents sending/transferring remittances etc but not a single Paisa material incentive to Overseas Pakistanis themselves. Gun has been fired using the shoulders of OPs.  All efforts have been made to create benefits to banking agents, to Embassies, PRI/OPF submitters of reports of their non-existing material achievements.   
  13. No one wants to provide any real incentives to the “real” Overseas Pakistanis. Likewise, this old man can say without any hesitation that the “powers” would not let the PM do anything practically real on this account which could benefit even a little to Pakistan, similarly as no brave media of ours would find any place for these non-sense words of this old fool.   
  14. For increasing remittances there is only one opportunity that Government may allow 5% more/extra profit to Overseas Pakistanis on National Savings schemes with specific guarantee there would be no new tax/levies on such savings.  Otherwise, the nation saw on US$1000 remittances appeal, the OPs have not shown this time that warmth as usually shown in the past.

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