Articles of the year 2006

A Pariah Nation
Published on April 28th, 2006

The newspapers are full of the Swiss visa scam, and the on going investigations being conducted by the FIA. It seems that the officer concerned has allegedly misused his power and position to deny the lady her visa to Switzerland, and to 'mutilate/cancel' her existing visas that entitled her to visit other countries. He also asked for monetary favors, and on this occasion she has alleged that sexual favours were also demanded. I have pointed out time and again, that we Pakistanis are no longer welcome abroad, and this is being made very clear to us at all the Embassies, and consulates. The hardships being faced by normal decent professionals or businessmen is not only unnatural but at times demeaning. This is not an economic or ethnic problem, it is being applied across the board to all Pakistanis, of all classes.

We have to reassess our position vis a vis the other denizens of the Planet, to find out the causes and correct them if we can. It seems the world is giving us a message that we do not understand, or choose to understand. I refuse to believe that we should be treated like Pariahs in our own country, and that too by the Pakistani officers at Foreign Embassies. We are honest upright human beings equal to any. That is why I think this treatment should be studied and corrective measures should be taken.

We have listened too long to platitudes mouthed by Government spokesmen telling our leadership how well the Country is doing. That is complete rubbish, and I would request these honorable gentlemen that they should understand the underlying message the world is giving us and we should adjust accordingly. I am prepared to bet our Foreign office is too concerned with the plight of the Eritreans or Somalians, to give a thought to the citizens of a country like Pakistan, --in Pakistan! They should be reminded of their Nationality and to whom lies their fist duty. The treatment being meted out to our citizens is in Pakistan itself. If Sharifuddin Pirzada was frisked at Washington airport, he has no idea how he would be treated at an embassy counter within Pakistan. Every Pakistani Government Officer and Minister should be made to go through this experience, at least once.We are a very clever and industrious people, and our Diaspora are praised by their host countries wherever they may be, this makes me proud, but to see the humiliation my fellow countrymen have to suffer at hands of foreigners here in Pakistani is shocking.

The dangerous aspect of these humiliations is the price that may then be asked for, and paid by the person requesting the visa. These are very basic fundamental rights of our citizens, and they are being violated here in our own beloved Pakistan, and a very clever market has been created, to earn money, from even the genuine travelers.I think it is about time the Foreign office is told to rectify this problem, because if the President's name and request to "all to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance" the word humiliation should be added because the letter and spirit written on our passports is not being honoured.

We are not really concerned in how many treaties have been signed, nor how many of our generations have been pledged abroad, we should be paying attention to how our citizens are treated here in Pakistan on our soil. This behavior issue should be tackled immediately, and I would like to call upon all the readers of this column to write back to this newspaper with their suggestions, for we cannot with all conscience allow this to continue. If these incidents had occurred in any other country, that Ambassador would have been recalled by his parent country.In Pakistan the lady is to be commended for her bravery, and fortitude, and the newspaper media in following the story, I only wish more people would come forward so that the Citizens could take action. The time has come for us the citizens of Pakistan to assert our rights and protect our pride here in Pakistan before we consider our taking up cudgels else where. We should also try and fit into the world, for if there are a few people who have cast a shadow on the rest, then this aspect should also be addressed, and the Pariah Nation label should be removed.