Noor Asrar brings to fore a cogent protest
The economic army of Pakistan & Overseas Pakistanis are worrying hearing rumblings of rumors regarding their future status in Pakistan. They have been given to understand the new incumbent government is trying to abolish the bill which gives voting right to the overseas Pakistanis. It is not known how true this news is but through newspapers and news channels it has been heard many times from important political functionaries such as Ahsan Iqbal and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi stating that once in power they will ensure that right to overseas Pakistan will be withdrawn. It must also be kept in view the movement for giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis was started even before former PM Imran Khan’s government. The then Minister of State, Farooq Sattar, had tabled a resolution calling for overseas Pakistanis to be given the right to vote in Pakistan’s elections. It is pertinent to mention here that former Prime Minister Imran Khan had nothing to do with the movement. With one of the biggest diasporas in the world and over nine million potential overseas voters, if overseas votes cast in large numbers that would have genuine political significance.
Before proceeding ahead it must be borne in mind that The economic army of Pakistan & Overseas Pakistanis are the backbone of Pakistan’s economic development. No matter what the scenario, whatever the circumstances, overseas Pakistanis never forget their country. The result of this devotion to their mother-country is that Pakistan has the sixth largest diaspora in the world and overseas Pakistanis send record remittances with growth at 26 per cent and levels reaching $33 billion in 2021, an amount that is larger than the total exports of the country. It is all too obvious that Overseas Pakistanis are no one’s estate or property. They will definitely vote for the right person in general elections of Pakistan. Millions of supporters of PTI, PMLN, PPP, MQM and JUI (F) have been settled all over the world and are followers of their respective leaders. If this right is taken away from the overseas Pakistanis then Pakistan will suffer irreparable loss and the patriotic Pakistanis who support Pakistan with his life, wealth and power will be destabilised. Further, those Pakistanis who are fighting against the anti-Islamic and anti-Pakistan elements around the world will be weakened. They will only be able to work for Pakistan when their rights are fulfilled.
The economic army of Pakistan & Overseas citizens are a key asset and make significant economic contribution in form of investments and remittances, but, so far, no government has done much for the overseas Pakistanis who send millions of dollars in foreign exchange to Pakistan. In this context it is widely acknowledged that the first step to appreciate their contribution is to enable overseas Pakistanis to exercise their right to vote. Secondly, they could also send their representatives to the National and Provincial assemblies. It is not fair that their support for PTI should be penalised by alienating them from political mainstream of the country. It would be more in fitness of things that appropriate steps should be initiated to ward off the impression of nepotism leveled by them against Overseas Pakistanis Foundation. It should also be taken in view that community councils should be established in embassies and consulates around the world. It is consistently emphasised that there is a need for the government to change the outdated lists of the Pakistani foreign missions and include in them prominent overseas Pakistanis who may prove more functional and useful for Pakistan. It is also acknowledged that Pakistani foreign missions, since a long while, have been working without any innovation and in an uninspiring way, a tendency and practice that is required to change for the better.
Perhaps the government of Pakistan and lawmakers do not know that The economic army of Pakistan & overseas Pakistanis are the only source of foreign exchange that no one can ban including the IMF, the World Bank and not even powerful states and political entities such as the United States and the European Union. Overseas Pakistanis are above political polarisation and the protests by them witnessed in foreign countries is carried out by a fringe that is usually disowned by the majority. The economic army of Pakistan & Overseas Pakistanis only present a positive image of Pakistan and its government to the world. Many institutions of overseas Pakistanis have consistently been advocating the official intervention in the matter but to no avail. Overseas Pakistanis are Pakistan’s economic army and it is a weapon through which Pakistan can become an economically independent country. If the overseas Pakistanis are dropped from voting in upcoming elections, it will be an irreparable loss and would be more likely to cause serious problems. Whether it is foreign exchange or investment, natural disasters or any accidental calamity, they stand by their countrymen. Likewise, overseas Pakistani media is the one and only media working day and night employing its own financial resources. They are known to keep their family interests above the welfare of the country and are extremely devoted to their beloved homeland. It is also recognised that Pakistani owned media houses have very close and good relationship with local politicians and are leading the way in highlighting the positive aspects of Pakistan by establishing good relations with parliament, think tanks and local government networks in the countries of their settlement.
Over the period of time it was noticed that there is plenty of gap between what was assured to the overseas Pakistani and actual implementation of measures designed for their welfare. The situation demands that the ruling party adhere to the promises it made to the overseas Pakistanis so that their continued support is ensured. What is needed is that for the government to mobilise the official information channels and provide more coverage to the activities of the overseas Pakistanis. It must be kept in view that overseas Pakistani media is the most powerful media which can play a significant role in presenting a positive and soft image of Pakistan and can influence the political process. Overseas print media, social media, radio and TV channels can be a powerful tool for garnering foreign exchange for the country. The economic army of Pakistan & Overseas Pakistanis often complain that they have continuously brought these matters to the attention of the PTI government but to avail. Repeatedly, this issue was raised before many government ministers who promised to take action about the matter but they have consistently ignored the issue disappointing the overseas Pakistanis. It is pointed out repeatedly that overseas media is the key in overseas voting. It is also pointed out that overseas Pakistani media can play an active role as the watchdog of all the votes in upcoming elections in Pakistan. Who will be given the vote, what are the safeguards from which party and which political party is working for Pakistanis living abroad, all this information and decisions will be taken only by overseas Pakistani media. There will be a background check of the political parties and their representatives and what has been their role for the country could be repeated by overseas Pakistani media. It is a matter of great concern that the new government wants to deprive overseas Pakistanis of their right to vote. In fact that there is a need for all Pakistani political parties that have taken over the government to clear their minds that overseas Pakistanis will be deprived of the right to vote. This will sideline Pakistan’s economic forces and stop the flow of money and remittance into foreign exchange and digital accounts. It would be a folly to lose Pakistan’s economic army instead of appreciating their contribution to the national cause.TW