ISLAMABAD: The ministry of overseas Pakistanis and human resource development has decided to teach Chinese language at the schools run by the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) while it mulls over the formation of youth council, comprising children of the Pakistani citizens living abroad.
The Managing Director of the OPF informed the National Assembly's Standing Committee on the ministry that a pilot project for the Chinese language education would be launched at three schools in Islamabad for which separate teachers would be hired.
"The importance of Chinese language in Pakistan increases because of the [China-Pakistan] Economic Corridor projects," OPF MD Dr Amir Sheikh told the committee. "The OPF will make Chinese language mandatory at all its schools. Students will be taught the language from the beginning," he added.
The committee meeting, chaired by Sheikh Fayazud Din, also received a comprehensive briefing from the OPF about its functioning and the initiatives taken by the government for their socio-economic welfare of the Pakistani expatriates. It expressed dismay over the OPF’s failure in sensitising the expatriates about its services.
"Why a large number of expatriates and their families are still unaware of the incentives taken by the government," the committee chairman asked. He directed the OPF management to make sure that the facilitation desks had brochures, pamphlet and standees, highlighting the housing, schooling and welfare services being offered.
Committee member Zahra Wadood Fatemi underlined the need for reaching out to more and more overseas Pakistanis and suggested a comprehensive mechanism in this regard to revamp facilitation desks. Assistance from Pakistani missions abroad, she said, should also be availed.
"We are not criticising you but trying to help the organisation for resolution of the issues facing the overseas Pakistanis in efficient manners," Fatemi said. The committee recommended for upgradation of facilitation desks at various airports and foreign missions to make them more result-oriented.
Dr Sheikh regretted that his department had failed to fully market its services. He said that facilities at the OPF were being improved for the overseas Pakistanis in the areas of health, education, housing and others. He added that the foundation would ensure that the problems of the expatriates were redressed through a one-window operation.
Shahid Ahmed sought the details of the Pakistanis languishing in foreign jails and asked the ministry to brief the committee. Ministry Secretary Pervaiz Junejo informed the meeting that some 10,000 Pakistani prisoners were locked up in foreign jails, out of which over 3,500 were imprisoned in Saudi Arabia and 2,300 in the Unite Arab Emirates (UAE).
During the meeting, Zulfiqar Ali Khan Dullah expressed disappointment over the performance of the community welfare attaches (CWAs) of the ministry. Junejo said the ministry's 19 CWAs were working in different countries but called for increasing their number. "I admit that it is not an ideal situation and there is a room for improvement," he remarked.
The committee expressed satisfaction over the OPF's schooling-related initiatives and directed it to bringing further improvement. Junejo told the committee that an increase of emigration fee from Rs2,000 to Rs5,000 was under consideration to enhance facilities for the overseas Pakistanis.
The committee meeting was attended by National Assembly members (MNAs) Zulfiqar Ali Khan Dullah, Sobia Kamal Khan, Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Muhammad Jammalud Din and Shahid Hussain. Officials from the OPF and the ministry of overseas pakistanis and human resource development were also present.