ISLAMABAD: In a big move to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis, President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday asked the Federal Ombudsman to ensure implementation of its ruling on designating Notary Public abroad, in order to simplify the procedure of document attestation and issuance of power of attorney.
The president expressed dismay over the delay in a matter that remained in correspondence for over five years with no effective steps taken by the relevant departments.
The President, taking note of the grievance of an expatriate in the United States, directed Federal Ombudsman to ensure the implementation of its findings/decision made on 15.04.2015 in accordance with law and “without fail and further loss of time” in the countries with Pakistani diaspora.
Mohammad Nasrullah Khan had appealed to the President of Pakistan against non-implementation of the decision of FO dated 15.04.2015, wherein it had recommended the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to “depute Notary Public in major cities of the U.S. with the authorization to sign and attest the documents of overseas Pakistanis”.
The complainant approached the Federal Ombudsman for the implementation of its decision. The Mohtasib in response to the appeal of Muhammad Nasrullah Khan, in its proceedings on 18.06.2015, advised MoFA to devise a proper strategy and disseminate the guidelines for the Pakistani missions abroad for facilitation of expatriates “within a period of two months” and compliance report should be submitted accordingly.
The MoFA in its response dated 16.07.2015 informed that the missions in Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago had preferred a personal appearance of the individual before Consular Officer to cross question him at the time of attestation, besides recommending to authorize the designated Notary Public in selected countries.
“The authorization of designated Notary Public for the purpose of attestation of Power of Attorneys will be introduced in selected countries, e.g in USA, UK and Canada, where our community is large and scattered in distant locations. The facility would be extended to other countries at a later stage if it is found feasible and helpful to our diaspora,” read the reply of MoFA written to the Federal Ombudsman.
The MoFA also mentioned other procedures to facilitate overseas Pakistanis in getting their power of attorney attested such as regular visits of consular teams and placement of information at the web pages of missions. Moreover, it said, the Pakistani Americans who couldn’t visit missions in person could get their documents notarized by the U.S. Department of State and then submit to the consular services.
President Alvi taking serious note of the grievance of the appellant expatriate said a simple issue of attestation of documents was resulting in “a lot of heartburn among overseas Pakistanis”.
“Imagine the cost of travel and time on the overseas Pakistanis for a simple attestation of document,” he said commenting on the MoFA’s suggestion for personal appearance to cross-question the applicant.
The President stressed that with changing times, the country needed to “match the policies of the world”.
He mentioned that the Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs) issued by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) could be considered as the “document for online identity without physical appearance”.
He suggested that interviews of the persons seeking document attestation could be taken via video conferencing, adding that the same technology had also proved useful in even high-level interactions.
He pointed that the overseas Pakistanis had recently complained to Prime Minister Imran Khan on a number of issues and therefore the government institutions “must be pro-active and make sure that overseas Pakistanis are satisfied with the processes adopted by the consulates and embassies”.
He said since the findings of the Federal Ombudsman had not been reversed by any other fora, it had attained finality and were liable to be implemented.
“A Reference as contemplated by Section 31 of P.O. 1 of 1983 is being sent to the learned Wafaqi Mohtasib with a direction that findings/orders earlier made may be implemented in accordance with law, without fail and further loss of time,” the President concluded in his written order.
It is worth-stating that Section 11 of P.O. 1 of 1983 empowers the Federal Ombudsman to get its findings/recommendations implemented for which a procedure has also been described under the law. In case the agency fails to implement its findings/orders, the course provided by the law including the punitive measures can be adopted.–APP