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December 1, 2018

Challenges beyond Katta and Kukri debate

Top Story

December 1, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision on promoting the country’s livestock business by focusing on the growth of Katta and Kukri (male buffalo calf and organic hen) is though generally discussed as a joke, on a serious note the on ground realities of Pakistani are far from the policies and commitments of the PTI government.

While Imran Khan is desirous of promoting tourism in country, a foreigner friend (married to a Pakistani lady) approached this correspondent on Friday with the complaint that his parents from Mauritius want to visit Pakistan for tourism and to meet their relatives in Lahore but they are not being provided visa for some silly reasons.

He told this correspondent that his parents - both holding Mauritius passports - are planning to spend a week in Lahore for family and tourism purposes. He said that as visitors and tourists, they will spend much needed hard foreign currencies. However, he lamented, it seems that the Pakistani High Commission (in this case the one in Mauritius) is hell-bent to make life difficult.

He explained that first, the High Commission would not accept a letter of invitation without proof of address of the person inviting, which is quite a fair condition. As a matter of humility, he said, his parents didn't want to approach his in-laws (the inviter), so to avoid hassle they decided to book Pearl Continental Lahore for their stay.

He said that the hotel booking confirmation was duly emailed to the High Commission but the latter informed them that they could not accept the booking as after calling the PC to confirm, the name on the booking only contained the first and last name, not the full name as per the passport (something which hotel never require).

“Now whilst we could call and amend the hotel, the matter leaves us pondering: why is a country so starved of foreign currency being so difficult in welcoming tourists,” he raised the question which badly requires a practical answer from the government of Pakistan.

He asked, “Does Pakistan not realise that a tourist is spoilt for choice with over 200 countries to choose from when deciding where to visit? Why make it difficult to visit Pakistan instead of making things easy for tourist from friendly countries?”

He said that he is sharing these facts with The News in the hope that this newspaper can highlight that sadly bureaucrats are doing more harm than working for the betterment of the country.

This source also shared with this correspondent the details of e-mail exchanges between the family and the high commission. In another case as against government’s urge to improve its revenue collection, the authorities on the ground dealing with the taxpayers and businessmen are becoming disastrous both for the revenue starved government and the taxpayers.

For example, in one case an extra zero (0) added by Punjab government revenue authorities to the commercial value of a successful entrepreneur has spoiled his business, the tax he used to give in millions every month came down to nil, large number of employees have been laid off but still he is made to run from pillar to post to get the erroneously added zero corrected.

The concerned authorities know that this is a serious mistake but the challenge is who will correct it and when will be the correction made. The businessman share his story with this correspondent but is reluctant to be named or identified in any manner fearing that it may add to his problems than solving them.

He says that the details of what happened to him and his business may make a good story for the media but it may further his problems as he has to deal with the same bureaucratic mindset. He lamented that contrary to the rhetoric of political leaders and rulers about facilitating businesses to create jobs and improve tax revenue, the on the ground situation for the businessmen is really discouraging and disappointing.

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