The Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis in its meeting on Thursday appreciated the Ministry’s progress and recommended that measures must be taken to spread awareness to overseas Pakistanis that will benefit immensely from it.
The meeting was held at the Parliament Lodges and the agenda included briefing on the New Zealand attacks and the Ministry’s role while dealing with such cases, welfare mechanism of Overseas Pakistanis Foundation and status of plots of overseas Pakistanis in Mehran Town Karachi.
The Committee lauded the stance taken by New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden and said it hugely appreciates the measure of the New Zealand government to award 2 year resident visas to family members of the victims. The Committee condemned the attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Day as well.
Ms. Samina Abbas from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefed the Committee regarding the measure s taken in such situations. She said that Crisis Cells are set-up and evacuation plans are drawn. She further stated that the Ministry coordinated with the home country police, the Pakistan High Commission and the victim’s family.
The Committee recommended that it would be more beneficial if officers from within the mission coordinated with the Pakistani Community in such situations since they would have access to those who are in an influential position. The Committee sought details of injured Pakistanis in the New Zealand attack.
While discussing the welfare mechanism of Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, the Committee was informed of the various initiatives pursued by the Ministry. The Committee was informed of the Foreign Exchange Remittance Card that was created to facilitate all those who remit money through legitimate banking channels. This card provides the user with duty credits that can be used while visiting Pakistan. The Ministry, however, agreed that to popularize this method of money transfer it was imperative that duration of transfer is decreased.
While discussing the status of Mehran Town plots the Committee formed a sub-Committee to probe the matter. Senator Sassui Palijo took up the matter of Pakistani 2000 prisoners in Saudi Arabia. She said that 200 prisoners have been released; however the fate of 1800 prisoners lies in the balance. She called for effective policy making and coordinated efforts of both the government and the opposition to facilitate them. She quoted the recent report published by the Justice Project Pakistan.
The meeting was attended amongst others by Senator Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Senator Nighat Mirza, Senator Sassui Palijo, Senator Dr. Shehzad Waseem and senior officers from the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.