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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Amjad_Malik
Full Name: Amjad Malik
User since: 15/Jun/2007
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OP for OP's 

Overseas Pakistani a Minister of Overseas 


By Barrister Amjad Malik 

 

On 17 September 2018, In new Pakistan, a British national Zulfi Bokhari has been appointed a Special Assistant to the Premier Imran khan of Pakistan with the status of the Minister of State. This is the first ever move to woo overseas Pakistanis with a ministerial order. As former Chairman of the Board of Governor of the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation in my personal capacity, I welcome this move. Congratulations to PM Imran Khan and his team who deserve applause as he is thinking on the right lines by appointing his aide on overseas from overseas nationals, the long demanded claim. The principle is noble, personalities can be sifted with the consultation of our missions abroad gradually. 

 

As outgoing Chairman , with the Board of OPF as a team we tried to serve our country with as much passion enthusiasm and dedication as possible. When we came to the Board , we felt the challenges were enormous. We tried to re-shift the orientation and mission and objectives which were achievable under the new leadership then . Historic annual report was produced , first ever excerccise in 40 years as under: http://www.opf.org.pk/media/2316/annual-report.pdf.

 

Overseas Pakistanis especially overseas workers contribute 100% towards the budget of OPF which is around 2 billion rupees per annum. Whereas 75% of the budget is consumed on administration, and only 25% or around is spent on welfare side of the overseas workers. Many lay detained unassisted in detention centres overseas , education facilities are next to none, airport facilitation is minimal, land mafia capture their life savings and compensation is not reflective to their contribution. Moreover, overseas workers were not even given the OPF membership cards for which they were entitled to start with by paying the protectorate fee to access services. OPF policy making board tried to revamp the services via policy shift, set up desks at 8 international airports , modernized the web site, www.opf.org.pk, set up online complaint system unified international portal, guidance booklet was prepared for workers and opf paper card in case computerised is delayed, OPF ambulance service to pick and drop bodies from airport, compensation was increased and 800 million were spent and deserving and needy families were marked to BISP and bait ul Maal. Around 200 member advisory council from intl members was set up and an open kitchehry was conducted at around 23 places  internationally and reports were filed with the competent authority . Each report sought recommendations from the Govt  to carry out certain actions for the overseas nationals especially workers in need.  

 

I still think it was not enough, and room of improvement is always there . We tried to end corruption from the OPF and Board showed exemplary resilience towards that fact. Recently Govt in their last days amended the mechanism of the Board and issued orders towards CEO and members of the Board of Governors which we feel they should not have done so on their last leg. We believe pre mature reconstitution ended UK Europe, USA, UAE,and AJK representation at the OPF policy making board with a twitch of a hand as millions lost their representation. We wish to ensure parity in the process of re-appointments of CEO and members of the board and heads of OPC's so that overseas segments remain represented.this move to appoint a Minister from UK will be a step further to make amend that error, and ensure fair representation to the vibrant 1.2 million diaspora. 

 

Further work is required urgently. We need envoys on Europe gulf and South Asia to maximise overseas employment , raise in house foreign remittance and investment and cement bilateral economic relations on projects such as GSP plus, CPEC, Dam fund and investment on overseas 5 million houses. Peoples homecoming can be made easier by knitting all Opc's through one portal and task force under PM  as well as addressal of grievances at home soil through speedy trial courts to end land Mafia and computerised land records otherwise investor friendly atmosphere and one window opportunity for investors will remain a dream. Overseas community will be jubilant with further representations in each Houses of Parliament with 5 designated seats like AJK assembly. That will give them a systematic voice in national decision making process.

 

Now the issue of legality whether a dual national can be a minister or not is tricky one and an academic excercise which requires a greater debate at the Parliament and needs to be tested in court(s)  . Can a dual national be given MoS status is to be tested by law looking at PM Moeen Qureshi & PM Shaukat Aziz, Advisor R Malik,and Shujaat Azeem and his brother's cases. Supreme Court set parameters for guidance .Indeed,qualification of a Minister always is that he is eligible to become a member of Parliament so Art.62&63 of the constitution of Pakistan 1973 applies so does on the appointment of Prime Minister & President of Pakistan. PM may make anyone chair of the BoG of the OPF , workers welfare fund and OEC And or BOI & direct to give perks& privileges akin to MoS, non compliant of 62/63 as MoS in charge will be bleak on legality. Advisor is akin to Federal Minister if with portfolio of a ministry , he or she may not be in compliance of article 63(1)c.Whereas Special Assistant is not advisor or MNA or a Senator. However Special Assistant if elevated with the ministerial charge may run into difficulties. PM Will need an opinion by ministry of law as assets declaration& compliance of Art.62&63 will be required to make it a legal appointment . 

In principle , I wholeheartedly support the notion that an overseas Pakistani should be the overseas minister and for that if an enactment is required to amend article 63 (1) (c) of the constitution of Pakistsn 1973 then be it. That may be legislated by the parliament to make it a correct to hold a public office in Pakistan if a Pakistani national acquired a dual status (additional nationality) in accordance with the law . The custom of transporters becoming overseas guru is not new and Imran khan is no different from his predecessor in this power game. From His Excellency the High Commissioner of Pakistan wajid shams ul Hasan to the Federal Commissioner Zubair Gul  and from The punjab overseas Pakistanis commissioner Afzal Bhatti to Governor of the Punjab former member of Parliament of UK Rt.Hon. Mohammad Sarwar, who all were British Pakistanis. We are entering into a new era , that of , Zulfi's era. So congratulations to Overseas Pakistanis ,change is on to us . 

 

Barrister Amjad Malik is a chairman of the Association of Pakistani Lawyers and chaired the board of OPF from April 2016-June 2018.

UK 🇬🇧

 

18 September 2018

 

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