Babar Haq

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Inaccessibility of Pakistani embassy in Riyadh

According to this report, Pakistanis residing in Saudi kingdom are the highest contributors to foreign remittance Pakistan receives. They contribute 29.5% of the total according to the statistics taken from last fiscal year. Despite this high remittance rate, the quality of service the Pakistani Embassy Riyadh provides to its people is very low. They struggle to get answers to simple queries like What are your working hours? How to get a new passport? etc. The embassy fails to cater to such queries even through telephone and web.

If you go to their website via Ministry of Foreign affairs portal, there is a static page with lots of telephone numbers. Their main phone number is always busy during working hours. During non-working hours no body picks it up. If you try any of the other numbers, it connects you to the exchange and asks you for an extension which never gets through. In my umpteen tries, I have never been able to talk to a human. Numerous people have raised this issue on web forums, but to no avail.

It is not difficult to to fix this in todays IT era, when VOIP call center solutions are easily and cheaply available. Another cost saving solution could be to divert all such queries calls to Pakistan and setup a call center there.

Internet is the perfect tool to resolve such scenarios. Pakistan consulate Jeddah has a facebook/twitter account which responds quickly to all the queries. They also have a very informative website. Recently an appointment system is announced to avoid passport application queues. A FAQ guide available on their website is not that helpful but at least it answers some of the basic queries. 

Unfortunately, Riyadh embassy sadly does not provide any of these. Email is some thing still very alien to them. Even if there is an address listed some where you can be rest assured that you will never get a response.

I do accept the fact that our embassy is over stretched and under resourced. Keeping in mind how much we contribute to our country's economy, this excuse is completely unacceptable.Some advanced countries embassy's after office hours route their calls to their foreign office in their home country. I do not expect that from our embassy, all I am asking for is a simple yet efficient way of getting in touch with the embassy.