Minister says about 2,000 housing plots ready for expatriates housing project
Abu Dhabi: About 2,000 plots of land in three Pakistani cities have been allotted for an overseas Pakistanis’ housing project, a Pakistani Federal Minister told Gulf News in Abu Dhabi.
The project called ‘OPF [Overseas Pakistani Forum] Valley’ has land in Islamabad, Lahore and Chattarpari (in Kashmir), said Dr Mohammad Farooq Satter, Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, in an exclusive interview.
Although the project ws started during 1993-1994, its progress has been slow, he said.
“After the present government came to power, we started allotting the plots successfully,” the minister said. “We are considering a large number of applicants for plots [where the expatriates can build their own properties],” he said.
Satter said his ministry will recommend the government to offer sovereign guarantees to Overseas Pakistanis [OPs] for their investments in Pakistan. “I think OPs should be considered on a par with foreign companies which get such sovereign guarantees for their investment.”
He said OP’s were neglected resources of the home country and they were often treated as third rate citizens. “We are changing that situation’, Satter said.
He said his Ministry was looking to improve education facilities for children of OP’s in Pakistan, health facilities in host countries, availability of consular services from the embassies, and avenues for serving the home country.
Dr Satter is the first minister to be appointed exclusively to take care of the portfolio for OP’s.
The minister said the present crisis in Pakistan due to terrorist threat will be overcome soon. “Every crisis brings an opportunity also. We are looking at the new opportunities in front of us. Pakistan does not mean terrorist attacks and suicide bombings; there are a lot more positive things. We consider Overseas Pakistanis as our ambassadors to promote such positive aspects abroad.”
Later , while addressing a function organised by the Pakistan Business Council (PBS), he said the current problems of the country were the results of 62 years of feudalism, tribalism and over centralisation of power. He said provinces, districts and cities did not have a role in governance. “But, instead of criticising the past and others, we can work together to solve all the problems.”
Dr S. Qaiser Anis, the president of the PBC, presided over the function. Pakistani Ambassador in the UAE Khurshed Ahmad Junejo also addressed the gathering.
Demands: 13-point list of welfare measures raised
The Pakistani business community has raised a 13-point list of welfare measures for overseas Pakistanis. The points were discussed by the members of Pakistani Busines Council in Abu Dhabi and compiled by Dr S. Qaiser Anis, the president of the PBC.
Some of the key demands are:
- The Ministry of Finance should establish an Overseas Bank.
- A life insurance scheme.
- More Educational Institutions in Pakistan for children of overseas Pakistanis (OPs)
- Institutions to retrain returning OPs.
- Housing scheme.
- Annual event for OPs
- Nominate one OP each to parliament from each province.
- Hold annual investor conference in the four provincial capitals.
- An annual award scheme to honour the contributions of OP’s.
- Voting rights for OP’s.