Facility for overseas Pakistanis

 Senate body for increase in insurance policy to lifetime

* Recommends increasing insurance policy from two years to lifetime

By Ijaz Kakakhel

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis on Monday recommended the government to increase the insurance duration for overseas Pakistanis from current initial two years till their return from abroad.

Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis Secretary Munir Qureshi told the committee according to the current policy, the expatriates get insurance for the beginning two years and then totally vanishes if a person is abroad for several years. A person should be given the insurance policy till he or she remains abroad, he added. The committee recommended the government to extend the facility for the whole duration the person stays abroad and is contributing to economic development through sending foreign remittances.

The secretary also informed the committee that the ministry is planning for providing pension facility to overseas Pakistanis on their return. The foreign remittances sent by expatriates during the fiscal year 2012-13 was touching $14 billion, he said and added that all these are through proper banking system in the country. More remittances have been sent by expatriates through informal non-banking system. He said Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis is trying its level best to safeguard the interest of overseas Pakistanis at every forum within and outside the country. Region-wise number of overseas Pakistanis abroad are, Middle East 50.90 percent, Europe 26.29 percent, Americas 17.85 percent, South East Asia 2.99 percent, Africa 1.42 percent and Australia and New Zealand 0.51 percent.

The ministry has established 26 Community Welfare Attaches in 18 different countries, the secretary said. Qureshi also said that a Complaint Cell has been established in the ministry with the aim of addressing the grievances of overseas Pakistanis through Community Welfare Attaches.

The committee was also informed that through hectic efforts by Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, the government of Saudi Arabia has extended deadline for Pakistanis from July to November 2013 for correction in their legal status.

MQM Senator Nasreen Jalil asked the committee to raise the issue of ban on adoption of Pakistani children by Canadian government on the request of the government of Pakistan. Providing written details, she said on July 2, 2013, Citizen and Immigration Canada (CCI) announced a pan-Canadian closer of the Pakistan programme. The programme has been closed as a result of objection to inter-country adoptions voiced by the High Commission for Pakistan as well as concerns regarding the in-compatibility of inter-country adoption with the law of Pakistan. She requested the ministry to take this issue at government level and if someone (Pakistanis) is giving good opportunities it should be availed. The secretary assured that he will take up the issue with concerned quarters.

The committee was of the view that there are several Baloch people, who are working abroad but they are totally ignored in provision of any sort of facilities. The committee also expressed serious concerns over looting and kidnapping of overseas Pakistanis particularly on their return to country and reaching home from airports. The secretary said this is a well-organised crime and several people are becoming victims of such incidents.

Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) Managing Director Iftikhar Baber told the committee that the ministry has provided several education and residential facilities for overseas Pakistanis. The OPF is trying to establish OPF School in FATA but regretted that neither FATA secretariat nor the political agent provides any response in this regard.

Senator Sajid Mir told the committee that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) staff misbehaves with Pakistanis working in Middle East and directed the ministry to take up the issue with concerned quarters.

Courtesy: Daily Times

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