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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday expressed strong dissatisfaction over the performance of Pakistan’s several diplomatic missions in different parts of the world, told them to shun ‘colonial’ and ‘bureaucratic’ practices and warned them that any slackness in facilitating the overseas Pakistanis would be ‘unforgivable.’

“Gone are the days when our ambassador in England would feel so proud and elevated meeting the Britishers. He was least bothered about problems his countrymen were facing in England,” the PM said in his virtual address to Pakistan’s envoys appointed in different foreign missions worldwide.

“The old and outdated colonial system of Britishers can work elsewhere but this redundant system cannot work in Pakistan,” he said.

Recalling his own experience as an overseas Pakistani, the PM said, “I have a lot of experience as an overseas Pakistani. When I went to England some 50 years ago, most of Pakistanis in England were labour class then. I have firsthand experience of dealing with Pakistan High Commission in England as an overseas Pakistani—The attitude of our high commission with lower class needs to change—our ambassadors in 80s and 90s looked down on labour class— in a very insulting manner— The attitude of certain ambassadors was very bad and insulting like colonial days’ masters would treat their servants.”

The PM categorically conveyed to Pakistani diplomats and staff posted abroad to mend their ways. “Let me make it clear to you, we cannot go on like that the way we are going on presently.”

The PM specifically mentioned of Pakistan’s embassies in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and expressed shock over their way of handling the grievances of overseas Pakistanis.

Referring to his decision to remove Pakistan’s top diplomatic staff from the embassy in Saudi Arabia including the ambassador, Khan said a full-scale inquiry has been launched that would be completed by next week.

“I received complaints personally and through Pakistan Citizen Portal that our embassy in Saudi Arabia is totally unresponsive and indifferent to the complaints of overseas Pakistanis. Then there were one or two incidents—I asked certain Pakistanis whom I am in contact with, and I learnt that things were simply horrible in our diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia—and our ambassador in Saudi Arabia was least bothered about the plight of overseas Pakistanis.”

The PM said Saudi Arabia and UAE are two countries from where overseas Pakistanis send highest amount of remittances to Pakistan.

“I understand there is heavy workload at both these embassies. If that’s an issue then you (diplomats at the two embassies) should let us know and we will support you and resolve this. But indifferent attitude towards overseas Pakistanis is unforgivable,” Khan said.

He said he received a complaint at Pakistan Citizen Portal that officials of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) at Pakistan’s embassy in Kuwait take money — 250 to 500 dirham for making illegal papers instead of guiding people to use proper channels.

Other feedbacks on Pakistan Citizen Portal against Pakistan’s foreign missions, which the PM shared, are as follow; top-level supervision is either missing or taken for granted in case of public grievances (especially in Saudi Arabia and UAE), unnecessary delays and complications in availing routine services, non-adherence to time commitments, complaints resolution approach of the embassies is mostly firefighting and lacks a passion to solve these issues…..and several other complaints.

He said Pakistan’s foreign missions abroad provide 17 types of consular services but the performance of several missions is highly unsatisfactory.

“The most important job of embassies is to serve their countrymen…and then to bring foreign investment in their country,” Khan said.

Mentioning Indian diplomatic missions, the PM said, India’s embassies are very proactive to bring foreign investment in their country as opposed to Pakistani embassies.

The PM said overseas Pakistanis send huge remittances back home and contribute vitally to country’s economy and they need to be given due respect and be provided with maximum facilitation.

“If Pakistan did not get economically bankrupt, it’s mainly because of remittances of overseas Pakistanis.”

Addressing Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was present during the PM’s virtual address to the envoys, Khan said, “Shah jee you must oversee this matter and we’ll send directly to you the complaints of overseas Pakistanis lodged at Pakistan Citizen Portal complaints for their expedited and adequate resolution.” He also directed the foreign minister to introduce a system of reward and punishment at Foreign Office, compassion for overseas Pakistanis at Pakistan’s foreign missions, all possible support to Pakistani prisoners languishing in foreign jails and prioritised focus on foreign investment. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Secretary to PM Azam Khan and other senior officials were also present at PM’s virtual address.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021