KARACHI: The Pakistan government once again did not come to the rescue of stranded Pakistanis abroad with the Foreign Office coming up with its usual cold response on an issue on which it should have acted with concern.
Five Pakistani doctors say they are stranded in Yemen after the hospital they were working for confiscated their passports and salaries. The arbitrary manner in which Pakistanis have been treated in the past in Arab countries has been a source of concern. The doctors, namely Shahnaz Nadeem, Zaheer ul Hassan Bukhari, Nauman Waheed, Atif Mehmood and Noshaba Gul, were employed at the al Khamisan hospital in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen in November 2009.
However, they resigned from their respective posts owing to the “disgraceful behavior” of the hospital authorities, giving a 24-hour notice required under local law. Despite the observance of local labour laws, the hospital authorities, however, did not return them their passports and also did not pay their salaries amounting to around $20,000.
The five doctors are now unable to return to Pakistan. Dr Shahnaz, one of the doctors stranded in Yemen, has said that they have contacted the Pakistan embassy in Yemen but the embassy has not offered any help in this regard. “This is a common complaint with Pakistani embassies abroad which are usually stuffed with people hired on government quotas and are not interested in helping their compatriots abroad,” said one disgusted doctor.
A letter was also written to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi but to no avail, Shahnaz claimed. Qureshi’s office did not have the courtesy to even acknowledge the letter, said the doctor. Observers say the appointment of an elected official has not helped in the Pakistan foreign office waking up to the needs of Pakistanis abroad. Pakistan’s ambassador to Yemen, when contacted, said that he had talked to the owner of the hospital and the issue would be resolved soon.
The ambassador is a controversial appointment and is usually singularly unhelpful with Pakistanis resident in Yemen, said a member of the Pakistani community there. The hospital owner has said that the doctors had signed one-year contracts but they violated their contracts and now the hospital has a right to withhold their salaries. “This has been taken as the gospel truth by the ambassador,” said the doctor. Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit, when contacted by The Express Tribune, said that Pakistan has contacted authorities in Yemen and details are awaited.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 11th, 2010