BACK in 2008, I was living in the United Kingdom as an overseas student. I had applied to the British Home Office for the extension of my student visa that had been extraordinarily delayed. I thought of reaching out to my local Member of Parliament (MP) to intervene for the resolution of the matter.

To book an appointment with local MP Siobhain McDonagh, I called her constituency office. I was told that if I wanted to book an appointment, it would be possible a week later, but if I could come that very day in the afternoon and was willing to wait, I might be able to see her after she had attended all other appointments for the day. I did as advised by the staff, and went to her office and waited. Within an hour, my name was called and, to my surprise, it was the MP herself who came out of her room and took me to her office.

She listened to my request with due attention, and explained to me that she would write to the Home Office enquiring about the case. She further explained that the Home Office usually responded to such queries within six to eight weeks, and once she received the information, it would be shared with me.

About six weeks later, I received a letter from MP Siobhain McDonagh with a copy of a letter from the Home Office in which the latter had apologised for the delay and cited the reasons that caused it. The matter was resolved quickly.

Currently, I am in Pakistan, and for the last several weeks I am trying to reach out to one of the federal ministers for his attention. I have tried every possible way to contact him through all sorts of personal, political, social and even military references, but all have been in vain. Irrespective of the chances that the minister might be able, or willing, to resolve the issue, I am irritated that I am unable to even see him in person.

I am not sharing these experiences to criticise or blame anyone in Pakistan. I am just wondering what made Siobhain McDonagh see me without any conside- ration of racial, religious, national or political bias, when in my own country I cannot reach out to a public representative.

Atique Raja
Karachi

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2024

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