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Pakistani expats may get a chance to vote

Asma Ali Zain/Dubai
Filed on April 9, 2018 | Last updated on April 9, 2018 at 10.32 pm
Eight million Pakistanis are spread across the world, including those in the UAE. The expat population has been asking for overseas voting rights and five seats in the Pak senate for a long time. — AFP File
Eight million Pakistanis are spread across the world, including those in the UAE. The expat population has been asking for overseas voting rights and five seats in the Pak senate for a long time. - AFP File

The proposal had been made to the prime minister of Pakistan three months ago.


The Overseas Pakistani Foundation (OPF) has asked for a five-seat representation in each of the houses in Pakistan's parliament before the upcoming general elections so that eight million Pakistanis all over the world, including in the UAE, can exercise their right to vote.

Barrister Amjad Malik, chairman of board of governors (BoG) of Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF), who is currently visiting the UAE, while talking to the media and members of the community, said that the proposal had been made to the prime minister of Pakistan three months ago.

"There are technicalities, however, that are being worked out," he said. Currently, the decision on overseas voting is being taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Election Commission (EC) while the elections are only three months away.

"Since no political activities are allowed in the Gulf countries, a proper method has to be worked out to allow this voting," he said.

Malik, who is here to address community issues, also gave an overview of the work achieved by the foundation while members raised issues so that they could be addressed in a timely manner.

"We have tried to control corruption within the organisation, provided small plots and houses under the OPF housing scheme to blue-collar workers as part of a pilot project, while we have asked the government for provision of a bigger housing project area," he said.

Malik also said that proposals were on to establish a university for overseas Pakistanis in the Saudi Arabia or Gulf countries soon.

"We have also allocated Dh159,0473 (Rs5 million) for e-learning of children who are unable to afford education," he added.

The OPF has also started a paid internship programme for children of overseas Pakistanis who visit their home countries during the summer break.

"We have transported over 1,000 dead bodies to their homes in Pakistan free of cost as a service to the community," said Malik.

A number of community members stressed the need for providing education and access to social welfare to blue-collar workers on a priority basis.

"We overlook these issues despite the fact that these members of our community work so hard and remit to Pakistan," said Mohammed Younas Paracha, a community member.

Tahir Munir, a journalist with Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt, pointed out that the lack of facilities provided by the OPF despite the promises made.

"We need dedication and sincerity to work from the OPF as well as the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai," he said.

Other community members said that despite carrying remittance and overseas Pakistanis membership cards, no benefits were being given.

Welfare programmes have helped thousands: Official

A total of 71,244 workers from Pakistan received help to get jobs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi from September 2016 to March 2018 as part of increasing overseas manpower, said Asma Ali, counsellor welfare attaché at the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai.

She was responding to queries from the community on the welfare work done by the consulate.

"Around 26,457 workers were recruited in Dubai and 44,787 in Abu Dhabi in the same period," she said.

The Pakistan government has spent a total of Rs20 million on financial support given to 466 families in the UAE over the same period, she said.

"As many as 166 needy families were from Dubai while 300 were from Abu Dhabi," she said. Legal assistance was provided to a total of four families with a total of Dh31,500 (Rs0.898m) spent on this help.

Giving other statistics, Asma said that currently 1,838 prisoners were in the Central Jail in Dubai.

"The government has also spent Dh81,500 (Rs2.570 million) on transporting 29 human remains to Pakistan during the same period - 25 were from Dubai while four were from Abu Dhabi," she added.

A total of 1,226 deaths were recorded during the same time - 994 from Dubai and 232 from Abu Dhabi. Also the consulate processed a total of 4,450 Foreign Exchange Remittance Cards and OPF membership cards during the same period.

asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com





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