UPDATE (April 12, 2021): Remittances remained over $2 billion for 10 straight months despite the Covid-19 pandemic, breaking all records, according to the latest tweet by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The premier, while thanking overseas Pakistanis for their “unparalleled love and commitment,” added cash inflows rose to $2.7 billion in March, which was 43% higher than last year.
UPDATE (July 22, 2020): The coronavirus pandemic has affected many people’s lives in different ways. There are many overseas Pakistanis who have lost their jobs. The government of Pakistan has launched a portal under the Overseas Employment Corporation last month to empower ousted workers returning back to their homeland. The portal is documenting the data and providing relevant jobs both within the country and abroad. Moreover, through the Kamyab Jawan Programme and the Ehsaas Programme initiative the overseas Pakistanis will be given technical, skill-based training and financial assistance.
Update (5 March, 2020): The government of Pakistan is planning to introduce a pension scheme for overseas Pakistanis. The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Overseas Pakistanis Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari said that it is for the first time that any Pakistani government will be launching the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) pension scheme for expatriates. The best part is that informal labour such as freelance journalists, domestic labourers, brick kiln workers and others would also benefit from the initiative. Apart from this, the government also plans to introduce health cards to the families of overseas Pakistanis.
Overseas Pakistanis remitted $11.394 billion in the first six months of the current fiscal year i.e. from July to December. The data was released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). These remittances have shown an increase of 3.31 percent as compared to $11.03 billion which was received in the last fiscal year during the same period.
Pakistan has one of the largest diaspora populations in the world. The government of Pakistan has recorded that overseas Pakistanis generate considerable revenue in the form of remittances and, therefore, contribute significantly to the overall economy. In fact, just in the first month of the current fiscal year, i.e. July, remittances from overseas workers increased 24 percent to USD 2.039 billion.
Last year, during the same period, the number stood at USD 1.981 billion. To put it in simple words, foreign investment is a key source of revenue and facilitating overseas Pakistanis is crucial. Fortunately, the government of Pakistan is working on a number of policies in this regard.
Which Government Policies Are Facilitating Overseas Pakistanis?
Pakistani government has always been keen on building a good rapport with overseas Pakistanis. To facilitate expatriates, the government has devised various policies to help Pakistanis living abroad. Whether there are labourers, businessmen, students or office-goers, the policies will benefit everyone equally. Take a look at the different steps the government has taken to facilitate Pakistanis living on foreign soil.
- Overseas Pakistani labourers
- Overseas Pakistanis in foreign jail
- Airport facilitation desks
- Foreign employment dues
- Call Sarzameen
Overseas Pakistani labourers
To facilitate overseas Pakistani labourers, the government has recently introduced special Sehat Inasaf Cards. This is going to benefit, in particular, hard-working labourers who toil day and night on foreign soil. The remittances these workers send are one of the main sources of foreign exchange in Pakistan. The government is all set to provide healthcare protection to overseas Pakistanis so that their families can also benefit from them.
The provision of ‘Sehat Insaaf’ cards to overseas Pakistani labourers will be a unique product of inter-sectoral collaboration between the Ministry of National Health Services and the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, both of which will together work to develop synergies to leap towards the next step of services delivery to the Pakistani population.
The provision of ‘Sehat Insaaf’ Cards to overseas Pakistani labourers will be done through the collaboration of the Ministry of National Health Services and the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development. As per a news report published in a local English daily, “Beneficiaries under the initiative from the public sector funding will be all newly-protected overseas Pakistani labourers and their families for the first one year starting from the date of their protection; and all old protected overseas Pakistani labourers on self-finance basis.”
The family will include the spouse and children who are unmarried and fall under the responsibility of the parent, as mentioned in the Nadra B-Form. Moreover, every family will also have a financial limit of PKR 720,000 per annum through which they can avail healthcare services and facilities. This program is being run in 45 districts of Pakistan.
Helping Overseas Pakistanis in foreign jails
The Pakistani government has placed a special focus on foreign prisoners languishing in foreign jails over the past couple of years.
Overseas Pakistanis who are stuck in detention facilities abroad are usually locked up over petty crimes. The government of Pakistan has made tremendous efforts in releasing overseas prisoners from jail.
Approximately more than 2,600 Pakistani prisoners, who were languishing in jails in the Middle East have been extended legal assistance. As per a news report published in a local daily, 6,880 Pakistanis are serving time in prisons in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Iraq. Of these, 2,612 prisoners have been released. The report shared more details: “1,245 were released from Saudi Arabia, 1,200 from the United Arab Emirates, 67 from Qatar, 55 from Oman, 18 from Kuwait, 17 from Bahrain and 10 from Iraq.”
Airport facilitation desks
There are one-window facilitation desks at international airports in Pakistan to assist overseas Pakistanis. As per the website of Overseas Pakistani Foundation, the following services are provided to overseas Pakistanis through these desks.
- Ensuring smooth departure and arrival of overseas Pakistanis
- Those overseas Pakistanis who are physically challenged or face health issues are given special assistance at one window facilitation desks
- For any lost and found baggage or any sort of complaint these counters can be approached
- If overseas Pakistanis are interested to travel and explore beautiful destinations within Pakistan they are provided assistance and help
- God forbid if a person has passed away and the deceased body needs to be brought back to the native town or village, the desks provide ambulance services free of cost. The facility is not charged at all and the Overseas Pakistani Foundation’s staff is deputed at various airports.
- The Airport facilitation counters also remain extra vigilant to any exile cases of overseas Pakistanis and extends every type of assistance in bringing them back to their home towns.
Building schools for overseas Pakistanis
The Overseas Pakistani Foundation (OPF) has also given scholarships, stipends and grants to children of emigrants who study in various disciplines within Pakistan and abroad. Apart from this, the OPF has also established 24 educational institutions throughout the country. Among the various educational institutions, there are two state-of-the-art colleges, F-8/2 Islamabad OPF Girls College and OPF Boys College, and about 25 higher secondary educational institutions. These institutes also offer special concession in tuition fees
Foreign employment dues
The Overseas Pakistani Foundation also helps in the recovery of outstanding dues from expired Pakistani workers, who were serving abroad. This comprises the basic salary along with benefits i.e. gratuity, compensation in case of death, business assets, blood money and insurance claims. The legal heir of the deceased overseas Pakistani or the applicant himself can provide complete documents to the OPF to provide the necessary claim, which is then processed with the relevant Pakistani embassy, who further take up these claims.
The following documents are required as mentioned on the OPF website.
- Copy of Passport showing legal status of Overseas Pakistanis
- Copy of Foreign Service agreement
- Copies of CNIC / NICOP / POC
- Copy of Aqama (Residential permit)
- Copy of Insurance Card
- Copies of death / disability certificate ( In case of death / disability of an OPs)
- Embalming Certificate
- Police Report / postmortem report ( in case of murder)
- NOC issued by Pakistani Mission
- Details of Bank accounts
- Court Order, if any
- Names of legal heirs
- Supporting documents of unpaid dues
Call Sarzameen – Online complaint centre
The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis had launched a complaint centre, named Call Sarzameen, which is an e-governance web portal. A number of complaints are received through the portal where overseas Pakistanis are free to register their complaints by simply filling out a basic form requiring name, address and other personal details. There you also have to mention the details of your complaint. Now, recently a “Call Sarzameen App” has also been launched, which will resolve expats’ grievances.
According to a recent report published in a local daily, “The Application’s web portal was introduced in November, 2018 on trial basis which received around 531 complaints, out of which, 361 had been resolved while 96 were in the process.”
He said the app was developed by the overseas ministry in collaboration with the National Information Technology Board (NITB) to introduce e-governance in his ministry and provide the Pakistani diaspora instant relief by solving their issues swiftly.”
If you are an overseas Pakistani who wants to invest in real estate back home, then do read our investment guide for overseas Pakistanis.