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Plan to post prominent expats as ‘honorary ambassadors’ abroad

Plan to post prominent expats as ‘honorary ambassadors’ abroad

GUJRAT: In a move that many find perplexing, Gujranwala Commissioner Zulfiqar Ghuman has tasked the deputy commissioners of all the six districts of the division to propose names of prominent overseas Pakistanis living in main cities abroad for their nomination as “honorary ambassadors”.

In a recent letter issued to the DCs of Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Narowal, Mandi Bahauddin and Hafizabad, the commissioner has sought the names of overseas Pakistanis residing in main cities across the world for their nomination as “ambassadors”.

Though it is not clear yet what will be the legal or official status of these overseas “ambassadors”, particularly in the presence of Pakistan’s foreign embassies, missions and high commissions in the world capitals and major cities.

However, as per the commissioner’s direction, the DCs have launched the search for the suitable persons for the their nomination as “ambassadors”.

The Overseas Pakistanis Commission (OPC) has been working in Punjab for the last eight years and its provincial office has also established its district chapters, appointing district chairmen and members of OPCs committees, that also have the respective DCs, district police officers (DPOs) and other officers as ex-officio members.

As per official sources, the Punjab OPC has not been taken into confidence with regard to the nominations of overseas persons as mentioned in the Gujranwala commissioner’s letter to the DCs. The officials questioned such nominations in the presence of district chapters of the OPC that too have dedicated offices and focal persons.

In this connection, Gujrat DC Saif Anwar Jappa has directed the assistant commissioners to propose the names of overseas Pakistanis for their nomination as “ambassadors” by the Commissioner Office.

A large number of overseas Pakistanis belong to Gujranwala region and the districts of Gujrat, Mandi Bahauddin and Sialkot, who have their issues in their native districts.

Official sources said that the commissioner had also set up a supervisory committee at the divisional level that would ensure the establishment of offices with dedicated staff to compile district-wise data of overseas Pakistanis belonging to the region, suggest ways to facilitate them by resolving their issues and propose their names for nomination as “ambassadors”.

Additional commissioner (coordination) has been made the convener of supervisory committee that also includes the assistant commissioner (revenue), personal staff officer (PSO) to commissioner etc.

An official privy to the exercise said the government wanted to nominate prominent overseas Pakistanis residing in main cities abroad as “honorary ambassadors”, who would coordinate between the expatriate community living in their respective (foreign) city and the local administration in their native district in Pakistan for resolution of their issues pertaining to property, security etc.

However, representatives of some overseas Pakistanis associations working abroad have expressed their reservations about the dubious exercise being undertaken by involving local bureaucracy to nominate “honorary ambassadors”, apprehending that such persons were most likely to join hands with local officials for personal gains and further exploit the expatriates.

Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2021

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