The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s soft corner for overseas citizens has become one of the most discussed characteristics of the present government. Be it the extension of voting rights to Pakistanis living out of the mainland or setting up offices to address their daily issues, the romance between the Imran Khan government and the Pakistani diaspora community appears electric, to say the least.
Working in the same vein, the government has also extended the scope of Overseas Pakistanis Commission (OPC) Offices, which already had presence in every province, to regions and districts.
In addition to that, it is also worth mentioning that OPC Punjab’s performance has been recorded to be noticeably better than the other provinces. Under the present government, the office has addressed a greater number of migrant issues and withdrawn more land from occupation of various land mafias, than the Pakistan Muslim League-N regime ever could.
Records reveal that a total of 5,300 complaints were resolved during the last four-and-a-half years, while the present government has managed to resolve more than 10,400 complaints in just three years, while property worth more than Rs50 billion has been relinquished.
Furthermore, multiple Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were also signed with various agencies to facilitate the provision of services to overseas Pakistanis. According to documents obtained by The Express Tribune, the Punjab Overseas Pakistanis Commission Act was passed to address the problems of Pakistanis abroad, under which the Punjab OPC was set up.
The web portal for which has now been updated by the present government to address issues of overseas Pakistanis on a priority basis, while district Overseas Pakistanis Committees have been formed at the district level to address the grievances of Overseas Pakistanis with greater efficiency.
Per said documents, IG Punjab has been appointed as the Focal Person for Overseas Pakistanis DIG Operation Punjab. According Commission Ordinance 2021, it has also been decided to set up a police station in the office of Consultancy Unit and Commission to provide legal and revenue assistance to overseas Pakistanis. In addition to which, the available documents state that a mobile app is being developed with the help of Punjab Information and Technology Board for the convenience of overseas Pakistanis, while a quota has been fixed for the non-residing segment of citizens for admissions in medical colleges.
This is however not a one-way street, rather one that appears to be paved on the paradigms of mutual backscratching— the government glorifies the remittance-sending block; in turn the remittance-sending block sings praises of the government and local economy and happily funnels millions into the country’s drying accounts.
So far, District Overseas Pakistanis Committees have been formed in 29 districts of the province. These committees include the Chairperson, DC Vice Chairperson, DPO Member and ADCR Secretary so that complaints can be resolved in a timely manner, in addition to holding bi-monthly meetings and organising workshops to keep the department up and running.
The previous government’s grievance redressal rate was recorded to be around 37 per cent, while in the current government it has apparently taken it up to to 64 per cent. In this regard, OPC Vice Chairperson Makhdoom Tariq Mahmood Al Hassan said that Overseas Pakistanis are an assets of the country. “Institutions are working hard to provide relief to them and we want the problems of overseas Pakistanis to be solved as soon as possible. Problems of overseas Pakistanis residing in USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were being addressed immediately. Complaints received on the portal are immediately resolved and a report is sent to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, including the Chief Minister,” he told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2021.