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Media Release

Government of Pakistanís rules on Repatriation of Dead body: Case of Late Paris Rafiq

Under the government rules, the High Commissions/Embassies or Consulates of Pakistan can repatriate dead bodies of Pakistanis to Pakistan on actual expenditure basis, if a formal request to that affect is received from parents/family of the deceased. In instances where the deceased had insurance cover for repatriation of body or where employer of the deceased was responsible for such costs, our Diplomatic Missions would ask insurance company/employer to bear the cost of repatriation. It is important to note here that our diplomatic Missions have limited resources and being custodians of tax payersí money they are duty bound to exercise utmost economy and prevent avoidable wastage of public funds. Prudent financial practices hence demand that those funds be utilized when there is no alternative source of funding available.

In case of Paris Rafiq, the High Commission came to know about his sad demise through Dr Zarrin Siddiqui who also requested its assistance. She was assured of the High Commissionís full cooperation and the willingness to bear the cost of repatriation if need for it arose. The High Commission then contacted Mr Saad Siddique and Yaser, friends of late Mr Rafiq who were managing the repatriation of the body, to ascertain as to what help was required. They informed the High Commission that the repatriation of the body was covered under the deceasedís health insurance policy.

Late at night, on February 12, the Deputy High Commissioner called Mr Ishtaiq Ahmed( community volunteer and relative of the deceased) to inquire about the status of repatriation of the body. When asked about the procedure regarding the funding of repatriation cost by the insurance, Mr Ahmed totally refuted earlier information of late Mr Rafiqís friends about the insurance cover and after accusing the High Commission of evading the cost of repatriation, he banged the telephone. The Deputy High Commissioner again checked with the friends of deceased and they forwarded to her an email from Ms Jacqui Johnstone, Manager Student Services and Compliance, confirming that insurance would bear the cost of repatriation.

In order to clear the confusion and arrange the repatriation of the body in an organized and efficient manner, the High Commission requested the Purslow Funerals, the company through which it has been repatriating dead bodies of the victim of boat capsize incidents, to take over the repatriation process with an understanding that they would first claim the cost of transportation from Mr Rafiqís insurance and if the insurance company refuses to bear the cost the High Commission would bear the expense. Mr Ishtiaq Ahmed, however, refused to let the High Commission's recommended funeral company takeover and insisted on going with his selected funeral company.

On February 13, the Deputy High Commissioner called father of late Mr Rafiq to reassure him that the High Commission will do all it can and in case there is any issue with the insurance it would pay the repatriation cost. Soon after that the Deputy High Commissioner received a call from Mohammad Fahad Shafqat, who was upset over the High Commissionís telephone call to the deceasedís parents. He after confirming that the cost of repatriation of Mr Rafiq body was being covered by insurance demanded that the High Commission cover the cost of his travel to Pakistan, as he is accompanying the body. He insisted that the cost of transportation of the body is paid to him so that he can use the amount for his travel and the remaining money would be given to the family.

The High Commission would like to clarify that under the government of Pakistan financial rules, it can make payment through cross cheque directly to the funeral firm or any other repatriation agency only for the cost of treatment, embalming, casketing and transportation of the human remains to Pakistan. No personal cheques can be issued. Also the High Commission is not allowed to pay for the travel cost of any one accompanying the body.

The High Commission is ready to arrange repatriation of the human remains of any Pakistani who dies in Australia. However, if that cost can be covered by insurance or other sources, it would be only prudent to save the government funds and let the cost be covered by those agencies.

High Commission for Pakistan,

Canberra, Australia.

Dated: 17/02/2014

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