A fact-finding commission has found three officers of the Pakistani embassy in Saudi Arabia guilty of misconduct and administrative incompetence.
In its report submitted to Prime Minister Imran Khan, the body found the embassy's mechanism to address grievances to be “ineffective”.
According to the report, three officers — former ambassador Raja Ijaz Ali, deputy head mission Zeeshan Ahmed and counsellor Aurangzeb — were found to be guilty of misconduct.
Even through there were no complaints of extortion received against the embassy staff, the number of complaint resolution mechanisms in place were not fully serving their purpose.
“An overwhelming number of overseas Pakistanis desire an improvement in the quality of existing consular services including handling by the consular staff, infrastructure at the missions and processing time for the services,” the report read.
The inspection commission has recommended increasing the workforce of the mission in Saudi Arabia. It also noted that the missions should minimise the dependence of the Pakistanis living abroad on private companies.
In addition, it has suggested setting up a one window portal to address the grievances of the Pakistanis living in the kingdom.
Every mission should have an officer dedicated to addressing grievances.
It has further recommended the setting up of a 24-hour service helpline.
The foreign ministry has also been asked to set up an overseas Pakistan division headed by an additional secretary.
The commission in its report has recommended that the foreign and overseas Pakistanis ministries should submit an annual report on the plight of the citizens living abroad.
It has also sought financially empowering the heads of missions through existing community welfare revenue stream so that they could obtain legal services and hire Arabic interpreters.
It recommended centralised standard operating procedures (SOPs) for developing consular services.
Besides, maximum use of ICT has been suggested to reduce in-person applications and digitally transform consular services.
An open court will be set up in Saudi Arabia on the prime minister’s instructions to ensure Pakistanis living there were heard.
The premier has issued instructions to ensure the implementation on the recommendations.
In April this year, the foreign ministry had recalled seven officials posted at the Pakistan embassy in Saudi Arabia, including the ambassador, and ordered a high-level inquiry after complaints of demanding bribes from expatriates.
Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri confirmed during a weekly briefing that Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed for the inquiry, adding that the prime minister’s directions were being fully implemented.
"Our Ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia has already returned and orders have been issued for the recall of six more officers of the diplomatic, community welfare and consular wings of the embassy," Chaudhri told reporters.
“The Government of Pakistan attaches high importance to the welfare of overseas Pakistanis. The Overseas Pakistanis are our greatest asset. Their role in national development is indispensable,” he added. “There is zero tolerance, whatsoever, for any lapse in the public service delivery.”
The high-level inquiry had been ordered after reports emerged that certain embassy officials in Saudi Arabia were allegedly involved in taking bribes from the labourers.
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