Aid to destitute Pakistanis in UAE a priority, says envoy

 khaleejtimes.com  01/22/2020 00:01:00  4  Sarwat Nasir/Dubai

Providing assistance to destitute Pakistanis is a priority for the country's consulate in Dubai, Pakistan Consul-General Ahmed Amjad Ali has said. He said an overwhelming number of Pakistanis in Dubai and Northern Emirates approach the consulate for assistance, half of whom don't meet the criteria set by the diplomatic mission.

This came on Monday as the consul-general briefed the media about the services provided by the consulate in Dubai. "We provide assistance to destitute Pakistanis and work with Pakistani associations for the same. For providing assistance in non-emergency cases, we need to seek special approval," he said. Such cases include those struggling from bank loans, who need help with monthly school fees and illegal stay penalties.

"As for air tickets, we provide them to destitute Pakistanis. In 2019, we spent Dh524,000 on air tickets, repatriation of bodies and stretcher cases. A total of 650 mortal remains were sent back to Pakistan with the consulate's assistance."

A total of Dh1 million blood money was transferred to legal heirs of Pakistanis who died in Dubai. This includes money retrieved from companies, insurance firms and individuals.

The consulate was also able to help release 386 Pakistanis who were jailed for "small amount of fines".

The consul-general and staff routinely visit jails to hear about cases. They did 98 jail visits in 2019. "For Pakistanis involved in heinous crimes such as murder, rape or drug peddling - we cannot file mercy petitions. There are people who request us to file such petitions, but we cannot do that," Ali said. "We give financial support to prisoners who have completed their sentences but are stuck inside because of small payments."

2 lawyers to offer free assistance

The consulate is working towards bringing in two lawyers who can provide free legal assistance to those who need it. "There are many Pakistanis who can benefit from this and that's why we are looking at working with companies who can send lawyers for free services," Ali said.

A tourism section will also be added to the consulate to help attract more visitors from the UAE to Pakistan. He said that by later this year, the consulate is expected to shift to a temporary building as the current one will be demolished and a new one will be constructed.

Fake visa warning

Pakistani citizens need to be aware of fake companies that issue fake visas, Pakistan Consul-General Ahmed Amjad Ali has said. "About 90 per cent of security guard visas being issued to Pakistanis are fake," he said. "There are many Pakistanis who sell all their belongings in Pakistan to move here. Only after reaching here, they realise they are victims of scammers. It's a very sad situation and we've helped many. There used to be about eight to 10 people daily coming to the consulate with such complaints."

Assistance to Pakistani schools

The Pakistani Consulate in Dubai is working towards improving the conditions of schools under its supervision, said Consul-General Ahmed Amjad Ali.

Three schools under the consulate's provision has been given Dh1 million worth of support in 2019, which includes financial assistance, smart boards, cameras for security reasons, kindergarten play area and school bus.

His Highness Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum Pakistan School in Dubai has now transferred its licence under Dubai's Community Development Authority (CDA), which means the school will be able to legally raise funds for its operations.

The consulate provided assistance to the school and was able to get licence penalty of Dh195,000 waived off. The school had been struggling with the penalty for years and was unable to transfer its licence under the CDA.

"The Bohra community has helped them attain a multipurpose playground, which includes a football ground, volleyball nets, cricket and basketball court," Ali said.

"A total of 350 students were on the waiting list for admissions in the Dubai school but there was no space. So we requested the Memon community and two corridors and more space will be provided this year.

"As for the school in Ras Al Khaimah, RAKEZ is giving us free land so they can expand. The Fujairah school also has a new building coming up."

sarwat@khaleejtimes.com

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