Dubai: A Pakistani minister said efforts are under way to resolve outstanding issues like delays in passport renewal, voting rights for overseas Pakistanis, facilities for community events and schooling capacity.
Pakistan’s Caretaker Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, Feroze Jamal Shah Kakakheil, told a community gathering in Dubai on Tuesday that he and the ministry have pushed for voting rights of Pakistanis abroad, however, the final decision is yet to be taken.
He said there were about 1.2 million Pakistanis in the UAE.
Visiting the Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD), Kakakheil said the Pakistan’s Supreme Court and election commission are considering granting the voting right to Pakistanis living abroad.
Dr Riaz Langh, Community Welfare Consular was also present.
“God willing, you [expat Pakistanis] will be given this facility. We [the ministry)]are ready to facilitate this. We’re placing ads, raising awareness and campaigning. We’ve written to Pakistani embassies, presented the case for it to the Supreme Court,” he added.
“But everyone has their own mandate. The court has given some directions, and as they mature, you’ll be given this facility.”
It was also revealed during the meeting that the long-delayed multipurpose community hall at PAD is back on track.
Pakistan Consul General in Dubai, Tariq Soomro, said: “Good news: we’ve solved this issue. A big donor and another donor have lent support. Only a procedural formality is left. It’s just a matter of a short time now.”
When asked about the delays in renewals of Pakistani passports, Soomro said: “The new passports are still coming from Pakistan though there have been delays. The delay is in Pakistan, owing to issues of booklets and lamination.”
He said existing passports were being extended “according to applicants’ needs and I have not received any references of Pakistanis facing problems obtaining visas of other countries on these [extended] passports”.
Another issue raised at Tuesday’s informal meet-and-greet was the schooling of Pakistanis in the UAE. One woman said seats were limited, with many Pakistani children attending other schools instead. Another man said there should be more schooling options in smaller UAE settlements like Fujairah and Dibba. There was also concern about Pakistani school leavers left with few Pakistani universities to choose from in the UAE.
Both KakaKheil and Soomro said they would liaise with officials and stakeholders here and back home to address these issues.
“The private universities are coming, they showed interest in an education fair at PAD recently. There’s no permission for bachelor’s level evening courses in schools, but affiliations with Pakistani universities and other possibilities are being explored,” Soomro said.
He was responding to a question about hosting evening classes in schools to accommodate demand.