ISLAMABAD: The government has directed all embassies and consulates abroad to ensure that the community members were “treated with dignity and respect” irrespective of their social status, and to provide them the best available facilities, officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Daily Times.
The welfare of Pakistani community working abroad is highest on the government’s agenda. After assuming charge, the PM emphasised that the missions should treat the Pakistani Diaspora with utmost respect and improve quality of services extended to them. Realising the potential of the Pakistani Diaspora abroad and their welfare was one of the main items on agenda of the Envoys Conference held recently in Islamabad in May 2014. The government has directed the envoys to respond quickly and positively to the needs of the community. “Pakistan missions abroad are, accordingly, in the process of upgrading facilities for the Pakistani community and taking measures to enhance the quality of services extended to then,” the officials claimed.
The officials claimed that a major initiative currently under implementation is the equipping at Pakistan missions abroad with the capacity of issuing of Machine Readable Passports. Another important issue under consideration is how to assist in the most effective way facing different kinds of legal proceedings on various charges.
Citing an example of measures taken by some of the Pakistan missions abroad, the officials said, “Passports on urgent fees are issued within 24 hours at Ottawa, Canada, and seven business days on normal fees, whereas visas are normally issued the next day or in case of an emergency, on the same day. Applications for NICOPs are processed through FSTS (Fast Scanning and Tracking System) daily. Attestation of documents is done on same day basis. To provide better facilities for overseas Pakistanis, the Mission has renovated the consular and installed signboards for better understanding and guidance to the visitors.”
Pakistan’s embassy in Washington, DC provides the same passport and visa services to the Pakistani community. Services are also provided during weekends or holidays for this purpose, mobile telephone numbers of Consular Officers have been put on the Embassy’s website. The officials further said that the Pakistani embassy in Riyadh and the Consulate General in Jeddah are providing services and assistance to thousands of Pakistanis on a daily basis. The embassy in Riyadh processes at least 600 MRP applications every working day. Apart from this, 120 to 150 manual passport applications are processed every day. A similar volume of passport applications is processed at the Consulate General in Jeddah.
During the financial year 2013-14 funds amounting Rs 4.79 million were received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad and payments were made to the concerned authorities of the host government to secure the release of Pakistani nationals, who could not be released earlier due to non-payment of fines. During the current financial year the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approved permission for payment of four cases and an amount of Rs 3.777 million for securing release of prisoners.
At Abu Dhabi, the officials said, “The embassy’s consular hall was expanded and the number of data entry operators in NADRA and MRP Wings was doubled to facilitate the community members. More than 350 cases are handled daily by MRP Wing whereas NADRA is able to cater for 100 applicants on daily basis.”
The Community Welfare Wing provides consular assistance to all Pakistanis, particularly those detained in UAE jails. It maintains regular contact and liaison with the UAE authorities like the Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Interior and etc to discuss pending cases of Pakistanis with these departments and pursues early release of detained Pakistanis.
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