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Zulfiqar Bukhari ( 3rd from left) with Senator Faisal Javed, Iqbal Dawood, Imran Chaudary, Mohammed Iqbal, Moazzam Ahmed Khan and other members during an event in UAE. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Pakistan will soon start fast-track courts to settle land-grabbing cases of Non-Resident Pakistanis (NRPs), Gulf News can reveal.

“There is good news for all Pakistanis living abroad as we will soon set up fast-track courts dedicated to expatriates to help settle their cases on a priority basis,” said Zulfiqar Bukhari, Special Assistance to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development.

He said the courts would settle NRPs’ cases within one month.

Zulfiqar Bukhari talking about incentives for Pakistani expatriates during a meeting in Dubai. Ashfaq Ahmed, Associate Editor - Online
Ashfaq Ahmed, Associate Editor - Online

“Land grabbing back home is a one of the major issues facing the NRPs. We have received a huge number of complaints regarding this. We are working with the Law Ministry to set up special courts to handle these cases since there is no other alternative to address their complaints. Normal courts take years to decide such cases,” Bukhari explained. Around 9 million Pakistanis live outside their country, including 1.6 million in the UAE.

Bukhari, who is on visit to the UAE to understand NRPs’ problems, was speaking at an event hosted by the Pakistan Business Council (PBC) at a hotel in Dubai on Sunday. Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan Ambassador Moazzam Ahmed Khan and Iqbal Dawood, President of the PBC, along with a large number of community members, mainly Pakistani businessmen, attended the function.

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From left: Raza Jaffer, Zulfiqar Bukhari and Osama Al Rahma during an event in UAE. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Bukhari also visited a number of workers’ accommodation in Dubai to listen to their issues. “Prime Minister Imran Khan has given us special instructions to provide a special incentive package to NRPs as they are the backbone of our economy,” he said.

$4.8b

remitted from UAE

Pakistanis remitted about $20 billion (Dh73 billion), including $4.8 billion from the UAE, during the fiscal year 2017-18 through legal banking channels. “We want to double these remittances to $40 billion annually in the coming years by introducing special incentives on legal remittances,” he said.

Bukhari said the government will soon launch remittance cards to be used by NRPs. “We are working on a project to introduce a digital remittance bank — the first of its kind in the country - to make it easier for NRPs to send money back home and get incentives.

$40b

remittances targeted by Pakistan government in next few years

“Those sending the money through legal channels will get points on their cards, which they will be able to redeem and use various facilities, including the reduction of airport customs duty and taxes. They will be given preferences for their children’s admissions in colleges back home and will also get priority to buy houses and land in the OPF housing projects. They will also have access to healthcare facilities back home,” he said.

$20b

remitted by overseas Pakistanis in 2017-18

Incentive package

Full details, Bukhari said, will be revealed soon once the full incentive package is ready to roll out.

He said NRPs had been ignored by previous regimes. “They wanted our dollars, but never liked us,” quipped Bukhari who himself is British Pakistani and was picked by Imran to lead the Overseas Pakistanis Ministry.

During my visits to prison and workers accommodations in Dubai, I have found out that by providing legal aid to low-income and bluecollar workers in the UAE, we can solve most of their issues.

- Zulfiqar Bukhari, Special Assistance to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development

Bukhari also urged well-off community members, especially Pakistani lawyers in the UAE, to create a pool of experts to provide free legal aid to Pakistani expatriates in the UAE. “During my visits to prison and workers accommodations in Dubai, I have found out that by providing legal aid to low-income and blue-collar workers in the UAE, we can solve most of their issues,” he said.

He said they would form a committee in coordination with Dubai Police to prepare a list of prisoners who need financial and legal help.

He said his ministry would serve all overseas Pakistanis regardless of their political affiliations.

Bukhari said the Overseas Pakistani Foundation (OPF), which works under the banner of the Overseas Pakistanis Ministry, would be revamped to make it more effective.

He said the number of community welfare counsellors at the Pakistani mission would also be increased from the existing three to four in the UAE and their number would be increased from four to eight in Saudi Arabia to ensure effective and quick services for the community.

“We will hire bilingual staff from within the UAE to assist community welfare officers,” he added.