ISLAMABAD: Announcing the launch of health cards for the families of deserving expatriates, the government on Saturday appealed to overseas Pakistanis to hold protests outside the Indian high commissions and embassies across the world on August 15 when Independence Day is observed in India.
The appeal was made at a press conference addressed by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari and SAPM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza at the Press Information Department.
Mr Bukhari said that the government had decided to observe August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day, as the day of solidarity with the Kashmiri people and August 15 as a black day to protest against India’s decision to strip Occupied Kashmir of its special status in the constitution.
“As I have lived abroad, I am aware how much weightage is given to protests in foreign countries. I appeal to every overseas Pakistani to reach outside Indian high commission or embassy on August 15 and hold protests. Moreover they should also convince their friends to participate in the protests as it is a humanitarian issue,” he said.
Mr Bukhari said that he would participate in a protest outside the Indian High Commission in London.
Dr Mirza announced extension of the Sehat Sahulat Programme to the overseas Pakistani labourers and their families back home.
“Overseas Pakistani labours are working day and night in foreign lands and send precious remittance to the country which is the main source of foreign exchange. Now this is time for us to give them social protection,” he said.
“Providing Sehat Insaf Card to overseas Pakistani labours will be a unique example of collaboration between two ministries. Under this initiative, the Ministry of National Health Services and the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development will work together to provide healthcare facilities to overseas Pakistani workers and their families,” Dr Mirza said.
He said the scheme would be launched from Oct 15 and its beneficiaries would be those overseas Pakistani labourers who had recently come under the government social security net for one year starting from the date of their registration. The old protected overseas Pakistani labourers will be allowed to have health cards on a self-finance basis.
“The family of a beneficiary will include spouse and unmarried children of an overseas Pakistani. Each family has a limit of Rs720,000 per year to fulfil its need for health care services,” Dr Mirza said.
“The Sehat Sahulat Programme is part the poverty alleviation initiative of the government which is working to provide financial protection to poor and marginalised sectors of population against unaffordable healthcare expenditure,” he said.
Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2019