LONDON: Pakistan needs urgent legislation with regard to its overseas citizens and only the change of faces and the empowerment of the forces of status quo will undermine Pakistan’s relationship with millions of overseas citizens, Pakistani community leaders have said.
At a press conference here, Pakistani community leader Ijaz Khan, accompanied by members of various political and social groups, called on Nawaz Sharif to show his sincerity to overseas Pakistanis and take steps to make them part of the mainstream.
Ijaz Khan said now that the elections are over, the newly elected government should bring changes that could reflect in clear terms that Nawaz Sharif was sincere to overseas Pakistanis. He said several key Pakistani politicians, including Nawaz Sharif and his family who were abandoned by his party and exiled forcibly, when ousted from Pakistan were offered full support by overseas Pakistanis who helped them bring democracy in Pakistan.
He said overseas Pakistanis are more concerned about the problems faced by their nation and there is no doubt about their loyalty. He said it had become a routine that Pakistani politicians visit London and other foreign capitals and get benefits and hospitality from expatriate Pakistanis but forget about the promises they make to them and instead start political point scoring back home.
“Overseas Pakistanis are spending money in their country while corrupt politicians are taking the money out from their country,” he blamed, saying that the government bodies have turned their backs on overseas Pakistanis and that the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Pakistani embassies have no interest in solving the issues and hurdles faced by the communities living outside of Pakistan.
He said the federal government recently appointed grievance commissioners to redress complaints of overseas Pakistanis for all the provinces of the country but the adverts about this appointment were run in Pakistan and no effort was made by Pakistani missions abroad to inform the community members about this development. He said the job of such bodies is to provide relief to overseas Pakistanis but they end up playing in the hands of bureaucrats, who draw vast salaries, and benefiting their offspring and friends only.
He demanded legislation for overseas Pakistanis as soon as possible and reserve seats in Senate and National Assembly. He said Pakistan’s elections were rigged at a vast scale and although the overseas Pakistanis have the right to vote now but there are no guarantees whether their votes will be counted for or not and that their votes will not be used in rigging to devoid their favourite candidates of their mandate. Ijaz Khan urged the British overseas Pakistani community and expatriate Pakistanis in other countries to unite and raise voice for their issues and to pressurise politicians to solve their problems.
Community leaders said awareness amongst overseas Pakistanis increased a great deal in the last few years and overseas Pakistanis were more interested in the affairs of Pakistan than at anytime before therefore it is important Pakistan fully benefits from the experience and say of millions of its loyal supporters abroad, and not just the remittances that they send.