LAHORE: Renowned France-based Pakistani fashion designer Mahmood Bhatti has demanded constitution of independent, fast track courts to resolve issues of overseas Pakistanis.
As an overseas Pakistani, Mahmood Bhatti, has also fallen victim to a fraud and lost major portion of his land in the provincial metropolis due to the misuse of a power of attorney he gave to his cousin, a lawyer by profession, to take care of his land.
Mahmood Bhatti, who earned Sitara-e-Imtiaz for his contributions to fashion industry besides awards from at least 10 different countries, is also facing life threats from the lawyer who was also filing various applications against Mahmood Bhatti on various platforms including police and FIA.
“We, as overseas Pakistanis, go abroad, work hard and bring our legal money into Pakistan,” he said while talking to The News and Jang on Sunday at his immaculately decorated home at Cavalry Ground.
Pointing out his finger around, he said that everything in his house is “made-in-Pakistan” which is a glaring proof of his lifelong resolve that Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent and brilliant nations in the world and how much he loves his country.
Narrating his tale, he said in 1996 he bought 200 kanal (25 acres) land on main Multan Road at Buchy Ka Bagh and gave a power of attorney to his cousin who is a lawyer to take care of the land.
“Some years back, I came to know that my lawyer cousin has transferred major chunck of my land into the name of his wife and only one kanal land was left in my name,” he said. He further said that when he took up the matter with his lawyer cousin, he gave him life threats, and asked him to return to Paris quietly. Bhatti said that he returned, but involved some other lawyers to follow up the case but his cousin also moved applications against his newly-appointed lawyers, and also gave them threats.
“I am feeling scared, and now I have come to Pakistan to transfer all his remaining property and businesses to his son Shiraz Bhatti,” Bhatti said adding he is going to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and tell him his story and request him to make a fast track court for deciding cases of overseas Pakistanis in a timely manner.
Over a question that Pakistan Overseas Commission and Punjab Overseas Commission are already present, he said these commissions are not speedy enough. “In Pakistani courts, overseas Pakistanis can’t get justice because they are not physically here,” he commented.
“There are some black sheep in the lawyers’ community who bring bad name to all,” he said, adding Bar Councils and government should also work on making a system to suspend licenses of those lawyers who committed frauds and land grabbing. “Having offices in 80 different countries of the world, I have met a number of overseas Pakistanis who didn’t invest in Pakistan due to the fear of Qabza mafia and such frauds,” he claimed.
He said, “I’m well connected with government and political circles, and if such a big fraud was committed with me, I can’t imagine what ordinary overseas Pakistanis were going through without having any support in the government to take help in such problems and losses of valuable foreign exchange.”
Mahmood Bhatti, a kind-hearted man with a dream of doing his best for the people of his motherland, especially the brilliant youths, said he has been a victim of similar fraud due to posing trust in someone else because of his absence. “This is the main problem,” he said adding majority of overseas Pakistanis have no option except giving power of attorney to any of their relatives or a lawyer, and then they face such frauds and life threats despite bringing legal money into the country and paying all the taxes.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan is very concerned about the overseas Pakistanis and really wants to resolve their issues,” he said adding he is going to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and request him to make a system of speedy courts for overseas Pakistanis.
Talking about the fashion industry in Pakistan, he said implementation of copyrights law is a must otherwise, despite rich potential, local fashion industry would not catch international attention. “A designer should know how to design everything, not just clothes since that’s the concept of a designer in the West,” he said. “All the paintings on the walls of my house are the creations of young Pakistani artists and I proudly shared this fact with everyone,” he maintained.
Talking about the impact of Corona on Fashion Industry worldwide, Mahmood Bhatti said that online business emerged as an alternative, but he personally did not like it because of several problems. He did not see any significant change in fashion trends of themes amid the pandemic.
After vaccination, the life is returning to normalcy especially in Europe, he said, adding the impact of Corona would not last long and physical activities in fashion industry would restore completely.
About his plans, he said that for the past several years, he had been giving lectures on fashion worldwide and he would adopt this as his old age career. He said that once he transferred all his properties and businesses to his three children, he would focus on lectures. He said he had already given lectures on fashion in renowned institutions of Pakistan like NUST in Islamabad and LUMS in Lahore. “At NUST, a two-hour long film is also made on my life by the students,” he said.
Mahmood Bhatti said that he started off his journey at the age of just 18 from a 10-marla house in Samanabad, Lahore. “I just kept working hard, crawling my way up and never forgot who I was and where I started off over my three-decade journey”, Bhatti said adding he has also planned to establish a fashion university on Badian Road in Lahore, and purchased 25 acre land for the purpose.
Answering a question about delay in this project, Mahmood Bhatti said that in 2018 former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar visited a hospital which he (Bhatti) owned and also summoned him to court, confiscated his passport, and made harsh remarks about him, though nothing came out of that matter. “However, I stopped any further investments since then,” added Mahmood Bhatti said.
Mahmood Bhatti also urged the overseas Pakistanis to support the country, especially the poor. He said he was ready to help anyone, especially a young artist. He said overseas Pakistanis were the real backbone of the country and the government should restore their trust so that they could come back and invest in their motherland.
Mahmood Bhatti also introduced his son Shiraz Bhatti who did graduation in political science and political philosophy from a renowned university in Chicago, the US. Shiraz said he has opted a career in music industry, releasing his first album in 2018 and second in 2020. He is also doing modelling for many famous brands in the US.
He said he came in this field due to his family business, and would continue his father’s legacy in fashion industry. Over a question about doing modelling in Pakistan, he said he would love to do it.
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