Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday expressed his displeasure over an "indifferent attitude and unnecessary delays in routine services" by Pakistani embassies, particularly in the Middle East.
"Feedback that I have received from Saudi Arabia shows as if the staff is not working. The staff in Kuwait's NADRA office take bribes instead of guiding people and an official is involved in making wrong documents... I was shocked to learn all this," a disgruntled PM Imran said while virtually addressing Pakistani envoys deployed worldwide, adding that the concerned ambassador did not even make an effort to identify the official involved.
The premier said that the government received these complaints via the Pakistan Citizen Portal and a full-scale inquiry is underway over the issue.
He said that Pakistanis living in the UAE and Saudi Arabia give highest remittances and both embassies showed indifferent attitudes toward them. "I called you today to tell you that you need to change your attitude... Shah Ji (Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi] you must oversee it or have someone to look into it... we have received floods of complaints that your response is dissatisfactory," he warned the envoys.
The premier urged the envoys to give preferential treatment to those who haven't seen their families for six to eight months and are working abroad.
"They spend hefty amount but there is a lack of compassion from your end... serve them properly... they're the force this country is running on," he added.
The premier said that Indian embassies are more proactive in bringing investments to their country as compared to Pakistan, adding that they also render better services to its citizens.
"We cannot work this way... an embassy is meant to offer service to the diaspora but they have been found to be callous," PM Imran said, adding that the ambassadors dealt with labourers the way British used to treat them during the colonisation period.
He said that Pakistan is taking off with the rupee strengthening and the reserves are increasing. "Today if Pakistan is not on the verge of bankruptcy it is due to the remittances sent by overseas Pakistanis... they are our valuable asset."
The prime minister also stressed on need for a comprehensive monitoring of the complaints of overseas Pakistanis, and said that embassies must work with the approach to resolve issues being confronted by the Pakistani labourers abroad.
“Overseas Pakistanis are our asset and any negligence to serve them is unacceptable,” said the premier, adding that the government will provide all possible assistance to the country’s foreign missions to facilitate Pakistanis residing in different countries.
Imran Khan also directed ambassadors to focus on bringing Foreign Direct Investment to Pakistan and it must be evaluated that which embassy facilitated how much FDI to Pakistan.
He said that Pakistani prisoners in foreign jails need special attention and efforts should be made for their release as well.
Last month, the government had ordered a high-powered investigation into the misconduct of the embassy staff in Saudi Arabia with the Pakistani labourers and workers. Prime Minister Imran had said those found involved in extorting and mistreating Pakistani labourers will be given exemplary punishments.
Overseas Pakistanis’ confidence in the domestic economy is on the rise, as the volume of their foreign currency deposits with local banks and their investments in a number of schemes through the initiative surpassed a major milestone of $1 billion.
These inflows have played a significant role in strengthening Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves to around four-year high of over $16 billion, improving the country’s capacity to make international payments, including the import bill as well as foreign debt repayments, and stabilised the rupee-dollar parity at around Rs153.