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Taking care of overseas Pakistanis... By Kanwal

31 January, 2014

Recently Chief Justice (CJ) Tassaduq Hussain Gilani ordered a wing at the Human Rights Cell (HRC) of the Supreme Court (SC) to launch a complaint cell to address the overseas community's issues arising in their homeland. This announcement is welcome but it has its reservations in terms of 'absence of a path of channel' whereby the expatriates float their voice to the apex court.

The idea, initially generated by the CJ, will address by and large issues faced by expatriates but, at the same time, it needs to clear the air on its correspondence and feedback loop. It seeks to safeguard expatriates' rights and interests in terms of their right to vote, address the issues related to frauds by land grabbers and harassment due to their relatives and attorneys in property matters. This idea will receive laurels in the overseas community but is the wing of the SC fully equipped to meet the challenges of the problems faced by expatriates via e-mail only?

First of all, it should intimate the e-mail address of the complaint cell. An assurance would be appreciated that the concerns of overseas Pakistanis will be addressed within 24 hours and that too in their homeland. Secondly, will the respective embassy of the country of their domain help in coordination of matters arising as a result of the complaints filed? Third, will expatriates have the right to vote in the next general elections? When the entry of a common man is restricted in the SC, how will overseas Pakistanis convey their sentiments and share their sorrow and grief when there is no mode or channel specified? Will a female British Muslim facing domestic violence be assured that her e-mail will be responded to within 24 hours? Will the wing of human rights at the apex court rescue her, at UK embassy expense? Will the SC bear the trial expenses of a British Muslim? Will the HRC of the apex court free her property from her husband's hand?

All these questions must be answered by the concerned authorities before the SC wing of the HRC makes tall claims that they "will be working" in the best interests of the "overseas Pakistanis' welfare". The idea, if adhered to, in terms of responding to e-mails and processing expatriates' applications within 24 hours will certainly be mentioned in the overseas community's history with 'golden words'.

KANWAL ABIDI
Islamabad

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