Here is a little joke I thought I should share with you all. I had a visa interview set at German Embassy in Islamabad on 4th December. This was for the Facebook Community Leaders Circle conference in Berlin on 18th December 2018. There was sooooo much paperwork but I am used to it. I love my country but let’s just say it doesn’t evoke trust right away. Was all prepared with NTN, tax filing docs, bank statements, employment letters, company ownership certificates and you name it.
Anyone who has ever been to the Diplomatic Enclave for visa purpose know the ritual. Going to the Visa Seekers Shuttle Service, standing in lines to get your visa interview invite checked, depositing your phones, and then being taken in a shuttle/bus with a bunch of other poor hopeful souls. These include aged men and women sometimes on wheelchairs hoping to visit their kids settled abroad, young wives in full desi bling hoping to be reunited with husbands living abroad, young men and women with dreams in their eyes looking for the Promised Land. And then there is the most privileged lot like myself that has a big company/organization inviting them to grace their event with all expenses paid and we are so sure of getting the visa.
Anyhoo, so got on the bus and was dropped off on the side of the road and pointed in the direction of the embassy. Reached and there was a shed with a metal sheet for a roof and nothing to keep out the dry Islamabad cold. Men, women, kids sat huddled together waiting for their names to be called out. No one there to explain the procedure. I was told to wait as my appointment was between 10 AM and 11 AM while they were still catering to the 9 to 10 crowd (this was 10:15 BTW). I could hear this Pakistani lady with a shrill voice standing behind a glass counter speaking in a mic asking people questions about their documents and it was quite uncomfortable. You see some were not very literate, some didn’t have the right docs and this was all very public. Eek.
My turn comes finally and one look and the lady tells me my appointment was made against an expired passport. Now the expired one ends with a 92 and the new one ends with a 93. My fault or whoever applied on my behalf. I showed all my docs, explained I had both passports on me … original passports and not mere copies. She said something about rules. I was really nice and understanding and asked she make me a new appointment for tomorrow. This is where it got tricky. She said I had to do it online. Now there were no appointments available online till mid Jan 2019 and remember how I said the event was on 18th Dec 2018? Yeah. She apologized and told me to keep trying at which point I had a fit of giggles. I knew someone who used to start laughing every time she would get angry and I could never understand how that could be until that moment.
So next time anyone complains of the faulty bureaucratic system in Pakistan I am not going to nod my head in agreement. NO SIR. And next time someone especially a foreigner complains about the lack of basic common sense among Pakistanis I am not going to shake my head at the sorry state of affairs in my poor dear country. Neither am I going to accept how we are deliberately lazy and make things difficult for people.
I along with others waited in the cold under a metal shed for an interview that was supposed to happen at 10 Am till 11:30 AM and was then turned away without as much as some assistance in getting a new appointment date. Would it really be so hard to make a simple room with comfortable (not luxurious) seats and some heating and give the people some privacy as they were called for their appointment?