By Muhammad Javed
Kerry Lugar Bill has become a hot pot in the country. Those who were earlier criticizing it without reading the Bill, today themselves have agreed to request US to amend and change the condition which in other words means they themselves had not read the Bill but were as a fashion criticizing as it was against their wishes.
For the last few months more particularly since take over by learned Dr. Farooq Sattar as Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis a lot is read so often government introducing this and that for more remittances through legal channel, discouraging hundi and more welfare of Overseas Pakistanis (Ops). Most of these are very nice to the extent of reading. For example after Parliamentary Standing Committee Meeting it was disclosed that for the welfare of these OPs the remittances fees/charges would be “reduced” whereas the fact is for the last more than 10 years Pakistani Banks abroad are charging nothing whatsoever and providing free of cost speediest possible quick service.
The nation is crying that just for 1.5 billion dollars a year, nation is getting humiliation under Kerry Lugar Bill. The Government can get rid of hundi as well as KRB by just offering Rs. 5/- extra on every Rs. 100 remitted through legal channel. This Rs. 5/- be paid as Rs 2.50 from Community Welfare Fund held with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Rs. 2.50 from the Overseas Pakistanis Fund. Both these funds are Overseas Pakistanis own contributions and not a single penny from the Government. These Rs. 5/- instead of paying cash be kept in a sort of joint account which may fetch interest. Each Rs. 5/- of a remitter are pooled in this account. When such an Overseas Pakistani returns back for good the interest than accruing on his such accumulated all Fives be paid to him retaining the principal accumulated. This would be a sort of pension to such an OP. A mango stolen from the garden tastes much better than purchased even cheaply from the shop. A scheme on such lines modified for practical purpose would fetch not only remittances but idle lying huge savings of OPs abroad. During late 80s a delegation of State Bank visited Dubai for getting a loan. As per the newspapers then the Pakistani community under the banner of Pakistan Association offered that the Government may take this amount as loan from Overseas Pakistanis with less interest rate with honour, but this offer was not accepted. This week PPP ex-Senator Anwar Baig invited US Ambassador in Pakistan and senior journalist in his home on a dinner. The US Ambassador felt it right to take with her a large team treating this gathering as a discussion and removing misunderstandings. As per newspaper reports the Americans were surprised as to why the whole Pakistani nation had all of a sudden jointly started crying against Kerry Lugar Bill. The Americans and more than our leaders do not know the hate against India and America is a psychological factor for Pakistanis. Our leaders provided they are truly ours, can encash this psychology. An Overseas Pakistanis Bill for Aid of Pakistanshould be introduced asking OPs to remit as their savings to National Savings. The Bill should be unlike KLB, only consisting of a paragraph with only 3-4 conditions which should read; (i) amount non re-patriable out of the country (iii) Ops to be paid 5% above normal savings rates, © this amount only to be spent on repayment of international loans defence and nuclear etc. To avoid any IMF or World Bank objections on this extra 5%, the same may be from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and OPF Funds as described above on which IMF can never have any objection as both those funds are self contributed. See how the OPs pour on the nation not merely 1.5 dollar billion annually. It is beyond any doubt majority for the country sake depart even taking advance salaries if one could convince them that their deposits will be spent for defence and honour of the country and not on tours, free Umrahs etc.