x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

New Pakistani government to help expats

Expats ask visiting government ministers for an expanded consulate capable of handling their needs.

Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Pakistani prime minister.
Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Pakistani prime minister.

DUBAI // Pakistani expatriates appealed to government ministers visiting from Islamabad yesterday for more schools and postgraduate colleges for the burgeoning community in Dubai and an expanded consulate capable of handling their needs. Syed Khursheed Ahmad Shah, Pakistan's minister for labour, manpower and overseas Pakistanis, promised at a meeting with representatives of the community that the new democratic government would do more for their social development.

Mr Shah and Qamaruz Zaman Kaira, the federal minister for northern areas, were in Dubai with the prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, for a Pakistan People's Party (PPP) meeting. "There are nearly 800,000 Pakistanis in the UAE and they are working hard for the progress of our country. We are aware of their troubles and promise to do as much as possible for them," Mr Shah told a meeting of expatriates at the Pakistan Association in Dubai.

He spoke about voting rights for overseas Pakistanis, more schools for the Pakistani board in Dubai and the creation of postgraduate colleges in Dubai for children of expatriate Pakistanis. The gathering followed talks between Mr Gilani and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Wednesday night. The pair discussed regional issues, UAE-Pakistan relations and ways of maintaining security, stability and peace in the Middle East, the Government news agency WAM reported.

Community representatives attending the meeting at the Pakistan Association called for a bigger consulate to deal with the growing Pakistani population and for easing the process of repatriating the bodies of those who die. Mohammad Riaz Farooq Sahi, president of the Pakistan Association in Dubai, said the community had several concerns and hoped to be heard by the new government. "The issue with [the] shortage of Pakistani schools and postgraduate colleges for the thousands of students studying here should be looked into," Mr Sahi said. "It is our appeal to the government to consider the problems of this huge overseas community."

He said the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai was inadequate for the city's Pakistani population. Mr Shah praised the role of overseas Pakistanis and said remittances sent from the UAE played a big part in the country's economic growth. Mr Shah is with a team of ministers who arrived with Mr Gilani on Wednesday after the prime minister attended the D8 conference in Kuala Lumpur. He met the chairman of the PPP, Asif Ali Zardari, in Dubai to discuss party matters and the issue of the restoration of Pakistan's Supreme Court judges.

Mr Gilani and his team were expected to return to Pakistan yesterday afternoon. pmenon@thenational.ae