The aim of the initiative is to provide help to community members who require legal help
Dubai: Pakistani missions in the UAE are planning to set up legal aid cells to help the community members involved in legal disputes.
Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, who visited the Pakistan Consulate General in Dubai on Monday, gave the green signal to the new initiative. “Serving the community should be the top priority of Pakistani missions,” he said during his meeting with Pakistani diplomats in the UAE.
Chaudhry was briefed by Acting Consul General Samar Javed and Charge d’ Affairs Dr Faisal Aziz at the Pakistan Embassy about the issues the Pakistani community face and plans of the missions to facilitate them.
He was told that Pakistani missions here were in urgent need of hiring a law firm to take up cases of Pakistani expatriates living here. “We often face problems in settling legal issues because we do not have any lawyer or funds to take up legal cases,” he was told during the briefing.
The legal aid cells will also include an Arabic translator to make it easier for the mission officials to communicate with the authorities concerned. According to Pakistan government records, more than 1,500 Pakistanis are imprisoned in UAE jails for various crimes.
Chaudhry was also briefed about the need to construct another building for the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai because lack of space for a huge number of daily visitors has been a big issue. The consulate building, which was built in the 1980s to cater to some 200,000 people, is no longer enough to cater to more than 800,000 residents living in Dubai and the northern emirates. A total of 1.4 million Pakistanis live in the UAE.
More than 1,500 people visit the consulate daily to apply for passports, ID cards and other services whereas the passport renewal hall has a seating capacity of less than 50 people and this leads to long queues and a massive rush.
Chaudhry immediately ordered the building of an air-conditioned shelter for visitors and he also assured the officials that he would expedite the approval for new consulate premises at the earliest.
The Pakistan consulate has already sent a plan to its government to build a two-storey building which will include two big community service halls and offices.
The Foreign Secretary emphasised that the community was a bridge for further strengthening friendly relations between Pakistan and the UAE. He directed that every effort should be made to address community issues and facilities be upgraded urgently to better serve the community.
Currently, the Pakistani community is facing problems in getting their issues resolved as Pakistani missions are short-staffed. The position of consul general in Dubai has been vacant since March this year whereas the ambassador in Abu Dhabi relinquished charge on July 20 and the new ambassador has not joined as yet. Two community welfare counsellors in Dubai have already been transferred last month but no new officials have arrived to replace them. Positions of commercial counsellor in Dubai and commercial attache have also not yet been filled.