According to rough estimates nearly 7.6 million Pakistanis live abroad with higher concentration in Middle Eastern countries, Pakistan has the 6th largest diaspora in the world. This makes approximately 4% of the Pakistan’s total population, and the remittances sent by the overseas Pakistanis contribute over $18.45 billion to the national economy.
Despite of such huge volume of remittances, which is not only an important source of funding for families of recipients, but also holds tremendous potential as a source of external finance, but unfortunately overseas Pakistanis are plagued by problems such as land grabbing on properties back home and a general lack of support from the country’s diplomatic missions abroad.
Here are some of the issues faced by the Pakistanis living abroad:
1- Renewal & Issuance of Passports
Almost every Pakistani is aware of the behavior and attitude of government officials at public offices throughout Pakistan, but its sad to learn that there is no exception to this in overseas as well, that typical lazy attitude and no intention to work is something every overseas Pakistanis has to deal with, when it comes to renewal/issuance of passports and national identity cards.
Those familiar long queues, poor management and age-old style of working has made things very difficult for overseas Pakistanis . A Pakistani living in a developed country still hopes that there would be process automation and operational efficiency some day.
2- Consular Protection
Many overseas Pakistanis don’t get legal protection, it’s the job of the diplomatic missions to protect the rights of its citizens, there are numerous examples where countless Pakistanis are stranding in jails with no reason, or in other cases they have committed some crime, they remain there and no one reaches there to help them ultimately surrendering to death awaiting legal help.
This is a matter of high concern and Pakistani government has to take some serious actions to solve this issue. They have to streamline the process and provide assistance;
a) in cases of death – For transporting the dead body back home
b) in cases of serious accident or illness – For financial support
c) in cases of arrest or detention – For financial as well as legal support
d) to victims of violent crime – For solicitation services
3- Attestation of Documents
No hope, if you are living abroad and you immediately need a document to be attested back home, you are in trouble. Getting the document attested from Pakistan has to be officially routed through an embassy, there are reports when either the document took almost months to come back or sometimes lost in between.
Many other countries’ diplomatic missions take these matters very seriously especially in case of students or job seekers needed to get their documents attested to secure a job or an admission in the university, Pakistani government has to re-engineer this process so the whole round trip of documents should be made fast and monitored responsibly.
4- Labor Protection
Have a problem with your employer? Don’t complain! . Live with it as there is no labor protection by Pakistani missions working abroad, they usually don’t address the issue faced by Pakistanis workforce, there is no check and balance on the monthly wages, or minimum monthly wage.
For instance, you will find numerous Pakistani workers in middle eastern countries working at a mere under $200 a month, how could you expect to survive with such wages when you are the sole breadwinner for your family?
Its very hard to get support from embassies when it comes to settling disputes with your employer, employers take undue advantage of this and workers from third world countries are suffering because they lack support from their embassies.
5- Investment & Real Estate Scams back Home
Overseas Pakistanis have trust in their homeland that’s why they look for opportunities to invest in their motherland, cheaters and mafias in Pakistan take advantage of this and launch fraudulent scams and schemes to attract overseas investment.
Real estate is the medium widely used to trap overseas Pakistanis, launch a fake housing scheme, loot the money and vanish, as there is nobody to catch you. Pakistani government needs to realize the fact that this direct investment of hard earned money from overseas Pakistanis is a core source of dollar reserves in Pakistan.
If channelized and supervised properly, embassies and consulates can dramatically increase the inflow of dollars from overseas Pakistanis, by gaining the trust of overseas Pakistanis and guarantee the safety of investment.