Pakistani community in France neglected, abandoned

The Pakistani embassy in Paris is not well connected with the Pakistani community. PHOTO: FAZAL KHALIQ

PARIS: Pakistani community in France has unlimited complaints from the Pakistani embassy in Paris and term it as alien place for them. They also criticized the staff attitude as non-cooperative and cut off from its own community.

Ahmad Jalal, member of Pakistani Community in Paris, shared his personal experience in the Pakistani embassy, told the Express Tribune, “As I applied for my national identity card in December this year but yet to get it and have no response from the embassy as well. What I believe, our embassy is not linked with majority of the Pakistanis but only with few people. Overall they are cut from the Pakistani community. Pakistani community does not have that access to the embassy which should have them. They need to integrate more with the Pakistani community.”

Narrating, a practical incident occurred when President Asif Ali Zardari was here, attending an exhibition of Gandhara Art,  he said, “The day President Asif Ali Zaradari was here, a French friend of mine called me and told that she could not get access to her library because somebody was there and they had closed all the area to the public which really created a negative image on the local about Pakistan because if other dignitaries come here, they don’t block the roads.

He also criticized PIA and said, “If you go to the PIA office you will find two Chinese attending Pakistani clients which is little strange. The PIA office doesn’t help people the way they should do comparatively other airlines are perfect by every means.

Junaid Khan, a student of Higher Education in Paris was not really happy with the embassy, while narrating his story he told the Express Tribune, “

“My passport was robbed after three weeks of my arrival to France in October, 2009. Upon requesting new passport from the Embassy of Pakistan in Paris, they issued me a new passport with six months validity and was told that five year validity passport needs verification from Pakistan and required a maximum of two months.  So I kept inquiring the embassy for my verification but even after four months, neither could I get any positive answer nor a reason of delay. Disappointing,  I went to the Pakistan embassy in Rome to get a new computerized passport which was issued in 10 days. This was a period of tension besides spending so much money, which was hardly affordable for a student.”

He also complaint about the attitude of the staff in the embassy at the customer service and said that they are harsh and un-professional and don’t give sufficient and accurate information to their citizens.

There is another issue of non availability of Bannk but the only branch of a National bank located in a walking distance due to which going there, a customer often miss then embassy time and practically attending both Bank and Embassy services is not possible.

Shaukat Hussain, a senior member of Pakistani community, who has been living in Paris for 30 years, told the Express Tribune, “Even the clerical staff of the embassy behaves negatively. When they come to office, their first priority is to seek currency rates and gets excited when the rates of dollars are higher. Though their personal offices are grand and specious but the customer service room is very much narrow with low standard facilities. The embassy provides limited tokens which can be got early in the morning. But many more people who come from out of the Paris often cannot get it and they have to stay in hotels. Then those with tokens have to wait in a long queue outside of the embassy which gives very bad impression on the passersby while in other embassies there is a proper system for their communities.

When the Express Tribune approached the embassy of Pakistan in Paris, Rafiuzzaman Siddiqui, Minister/DHM Charge d’Affari, told the Express Tribune, “If the people have genuine complaints, they have every right to speak open and we will redress it but it is also fact that sometime people make issues of non-issues. The very long standing issue people faced here was the non availability of the machine readable passport which has been solved now for them.”

Regarding token and queue issues outside of the embassy, Siddiqui negated the waiting queue complaint and said, “I have never seen any line standing here. Though with the limited resources, we try to provide best services. First we issued 25 tokens but now extended to 40. There is a proper sitting arrangement inside the embassy.”

About the delay in achieving National Identity Card he said that they did the process in time but it got delayed from Pakistan. He also said that unlike India, Pakistani embassy has not cultural centre. “We don’t have funds for cultural promotion and whatever we do in this regard, we do generate it from our own recourses.  As concerned, the culture promotion, so we arrange different activities regularly. For six months consecutively we organized exhibition of Gandhara art here in a museum but our community is not so much interested in it.”

“We have even helped and assisted our community on the off days. Whenever we come to know a Pakistani with an issue, our officers come to the office even on off days and sort out their problem.” He added.

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