PM launches automation of power of attorney process for overseas Pakistanis

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 18 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday launched a portal for overseas Pakistanis to enable them digitally apply and obtain their power of attorney which otherwise required them to travel to Pakistan.

Addressing the launching ceremony, the prime minister said that earlier, around 75,000 expatriates had to travel to Pakistan for the purpose and go through a cumbersome process of verifying the power of attorney.

In this regard, a Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) which was also witnessed by the prime minister.

The automation of attestation of Power of Attorney has been a longstanding demand of the Overseas Pakistanis and will facilitate those who have to travel long distances from different cities and far-off places to the Missions.

The facility has been initially launched as a pilot project in 10 Pakistan Missions/Sub-Missions in the United States and the United Kingdom and will be replicated shortly at all Pakistan Missions abroad.

He told the gathering that the process of developing the portal for digital verification of power of attorney was initiated after an overseas Pakistani from Greece highlighted the issue. He also suggested the government digitalize the process to make the lives of overseas Pakistanis easier, he added.

The prime minister repeatedly lauded the nine million overseas Pakistanis for their contribution to support the national economy by sending $30 billion in remittances.

He said his government had earlier launched a succession certificate facility for the overseas Pakistanis and reiterated his government’s resolve to keep facilitating them as they were the biggest asset.

The digital portal, initially being launched in 10 countries, will be linked up with NADRA’s database and to be further extended to all embassies and consulates abroad.

The portal will save time and money of overseas Pakistanis, who will also be able to track the status of their applications.

The prime minister said that voting right to overseas Pakistanis, provided through Wednesday’s legislation, would not only enrich their importance but also enable them to keep a check on governments using their power of vote.

“Every government will be compelled to value the overseas Pakistanis because (now) they can vote. When they will vote, they will elect a government which will ease their lives,” the prime minister said.

He said in democracy, the voters could keep a check on their government through their vote. As the overseas Pakistanis were around nine million in number, the governments would be forced to value them duly.

Secondly, he said the legislation on the use of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in elections was also made possible as NADRA made it easier to ensure election using the latest technology.

He recalled that the Election Commission in 2008 and a judicial commission in 2015 had also recommended the use of EVM to ensure holding a transparent election.

He viewed that in fact those desiring to take advantage of old system would never let the change to come in.

He also mentioned the resistance faced by the government from within the Utility Stores and FBR when it tried to automate their working to bring in transparency.

He said tax collectors made huge money and the beneficiaries resisted any effort to curb the practice.

He said the government would launch track and trace system by next week which was made possible after huge efforts and would help to ascertain the real figures of production. Such a system would discourage tax evasion and keep proper check on the major businesses like cement, sugar and cigarettes.

He told the audience that the EVMs were functional across the world and it could also address all of the election-related issues in Pakistan.

The prime minister said around 1.5 million votes were rejected in last elections which could have been saved in case of EVMs. The EVMs will also help to do away with the practices of fake votes, he added.

The prime minister said the incumbent government also called for an open ballot in Senate election as secret ballot involved huge money to buy the way into Senate.

But he said both the PPP and PML-N opposed the move despite the fact that the PTI had no advantage of this open ballot.

Referring to the opposition’s criticism on legislation in joint session of the parliament, he said that ”yesterday’s drama” was also meant to stop the overseas Pakistanis from voting.

The prime minister said the PTI government had granted voting right to the expatriates and reiterated his government’s resolve bring more ease in their lives.

He said unfortunately, the respective government’s could not tap the potential of overseas Pakistanis who otherwise value their country more and had supported the country in time of distress.

The prime minister viewed that the country would not have required any IMF facility or loan had it properly tapped the potential of overseas Pakistanis.

“But unfortunately, we never considered them an asset rather made their live more difficult,” he remarked.

He said owing to corrupt system and practices, the overseas Pakistanis had to face loss or lose their properties to illegal occupation.

He said the real potential of expatriates was their investment but the country never valued them and provided them required ease.

He said the foreign ministry had also directed the embassies particularly in Saudi Arabia and UAE to facilitate the Pakistani workers who would also be able to directly highlight their issue at the recently launched FM Portal.

The Foreign Minister, in his remarks, congratulated the teams of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as NADRA for making the project a success.

He highlighted that this project involved extensive legislative and technological work and was completed in a very short span of time.

He reiterated that the government attached utmost importance to the welfare of overseas Pakistanis under the guidance of the prime minister. He stated that welfare of the Pakistani community was one of the major functions of our Missions abroad alongwith economic diplomacy.

Later, Chairman of NADRA Tariq Malik wrote on Twitter that with the launch of the ‘Digital Power of Attorney’ portal, overseas Pakistanis can apply for PoA “from the comfort of [their] homes”.

The portal has been developed by the National Database and Registration Authority.

Malik said around 75,000 people visited Pakistani foreign missions for the issuance of PoA annually, which they no longer needed to.

“This innovative web-based solution by Nadra utilises online biometrics verification & video interview to verify applicants remotely for PoA issuance,” he said.