x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pakistanis far from UAE mission may get consular facilities

Special consular facilities may be set up for Pakistani expatriates who are unable to visit Abu Dhabi or Dhabi.

DUBAI// Special consular facilities may be set up for Pakistani expatriates who live too far away from their consulate or embassy.

"For people in places such as Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah or Umm Al Quwain who find it difficult to go to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, this would be of benefit," Rehman Malik, an adviser on interior affairs to the prime minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, said yesterday at Pakistan's consulate in Dubai.

"I have discussed the matter with the ambassador on a technical, professional and diplomatic basis," Mr Malik added.

He said talks would take place with UAE authorities and once the idea was given the green light, the new facilities could be up and running in four weeks.

Mr Malik said Pakistani expatriates in the UAE played a crucial economic role by sending home US$2.8 billion (Dh10.3bn) every year in remittances. "Foreign exchange is very important to Pakistan and the expatriates here are really contributing to the country," he said.

Mr Malik also pledged to work towards allowing Pakistanis living overseas the chance to vote in elections. "Overseas Pakistanis should be given the vote," he said. "I am working so that they are able to take part in elections for the Senate and National Assembly."

He said a bill had been moved in parliament and expats would soon be able to vote.

Mr Malik also urged people to contact the authorities on issues such as human trafficking and drugs.

"We know that they go from Afghanistan and Pakistan and travel to Arabian Gulf states by sea and air," he said. "If people have any information about this they should contact the authorities immediately."

During a wide-ranging discussion, Mr Malik also reaffirmed the importance of Pakistan's relationship with the UAE and thanked its rulers for being a dependable friend.

"When the Swat valley was destroyed it was the UAE that helped to build schools and roads," he said.

Mr Malik also criticised American military drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, but admitted the country did have a terrorist problem.

"There needs to be more coordination between us and Nato in dealing with this issue," he said.

He added that the reopening of Nato supply lines after the the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton,  apologised for the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a Nato air strike in November was not done on financial grounds.