The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development has recognized that over 7.6 million Pakistanis are living abroad. Overseas Pakistanis are sometimes at a grave disadvantage when it comes to protecting their investments and property rights in Pakistan. Likewise, an unsafe environment hinders innovation, foreign direct investments, tax revenues, and a discouraging business environment in our country. The efficient handling of foreign litigation and disputes is essential to economic development and sustained growth. The efficiency of our judicial system in securing the rights and assets of overseas Pakistanis is not only of paramount importance for those overseas but is also an integral part of safeguarding Pakistan’s economy. As such, Pakistan has taken a practical interest in resolving the problems of Overseas Pakistanis and come up with the following solutions:
I. The Punjab Overseas Pakistanis Commission of the Government of Punjab is a services and general administration department for overseas Pakistanis. Through their redressal process, one can file a complaint via the Overseas Pakistanis Committee’s (“OPC”) Complaint Portal. Once the complaint is filed, the Commission crosschecks it to make sure it is a complaint as defined in Punjab Overseas Pakistanis Commission Act, 2014. The Act grants broad ranging authority to the Commissioner. The Commission then refers the case for redressal to either to a Government Department or District Overseas Pakistanis Committee (DOPC). Once the complaint is “Referred” to the concerned District Overseas Pakistanis Committee (DOPC) or Government Department for its redress, the timeline for resolution is a month, with an initial response time of 7 days. The complaint is assigned to a “Dealing Officer” (an officer of OPC) who is responsible for tracking the progress of the complaint redress process and coordinates between the complainant and the DOPC/Department.
II. The Lahore High Court Website has a dedicated page titled, “Commercial & Overseas Pakistanis Cell”, it can be found here. Via the Lahore High Court’s website, one can fill an online complaint form for the District Judiciary and/or for the Lahore High Court.
III. The Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development, Government of Pakistan is s a public sector company with a mission to ensure the welfare of Overseas Pakistanis and their families by generating sufficient resources and coordination with stakeholders. The Overseas Pakistanis Foundation established a complaint cell in June, 2001 by which complaints are received directly from overseas Pakistanis through post, e-mail, fax, their online complaints management system and personal visits. In order to lodge a complaint, one must be registered with the Overseas Pakistani Foundation. Registration is PKR 2,000/-. The benefit of registering would be the potential for early resolution of grievances to minimize time gap before initial action. You can view the website here
IV. The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan as per directions of the National Judicial Policy Making Committee has also given direct contact information for relevant forums where Complaints may be forwarded to Overseas Pakistanis. You can view the relevant forms here
V. The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resources Department also has a complaint management cell that one can submit a form with. You can view the form here
The government is also considering proposals to further bring ease to overseas Pakistanis by allowing for overseas Pakistanis to record statements in their cases through video link. Judicial efforts to create specialized Courts for overseas Pakistanis are a big step forward in providing swift and prompt justice. It is also essential to remember that with whatever avenue one may choose to pursue, an overseas Pakistani also enjoys the benefit of addressing the Pak Mission Abroad where they reside as well as writing to the Prime Minister’s Office. It cannot be denied that overseas Pakistanis are an incredible asset to our nation and as such instituting reforms to bring justice to overseas Pakistanis is commendable.