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    Jamilur Rehman of Lahore (DAWN Karachi) says a loving brother sends regularly her loving little sister from UK birthday present a sum of GBP 500 through banking channel paying GBP 30 as service charges in London. At Pakistan end after bank commission and deduction of penalty for not keeping minimum balance at the end the loving sister gets GBP360/- net and now Jamilur Rehman wonders worthiness of legal remittances.

    I am an Overseas Pakistani presently on leave in Pakistan. During my 18 years stay abroad I have never ever used Hundi or smuggled any item. I have always advised and practically helped Pakistanis there to keep their savings in Pakistani. I have introduced more than 3000 bank accounts in Pakistan during 1983 to 1992 in addition to hundreds in National Savings. At early stages I used to arrange account opening forms at my own expense. After 1992-93 I stopped this hobby.

    On my advice many had since 1983 been opening Mahana Amadni Accounts with National Savings. Now those who opened these during 1998 to 2001 angrily are crying over me as I did tell them National Savings was a government department and its word was a promise. They opened accounts on the term they will have to pay 60 monthly installments but now they are told they are to pay 72 months as changed rule (on advice of IMF) is to apply retrospectively.

    I had kept my own account in Pakistan. Last year I issued a crossed cheque of Rs. 10,000/- in favour of my brother. He deposited it into his account. My Bank in Karachi, a nationalised bank, refused to encash it on the plea since account holder (an overseas Pakistani) had not operated it hence the account had become dormant and now account holder needs to come personally to the Branch. To get a cheque of Rs. 10,000 encashed on expense of minimum Rs. 30,000 as travel charges was really a non sense. More stupid was account of an OP becoming dormant despite knowing many OPs were working under stiff conditions and visit Pakistan mostly once in 2 to 4 years. After 18 years only in 2000 I became wise that my money should be with me abroad where I live so when I am to give Rs. 10,000 to my brother I may withdraw immediately locally abroad and send it to my brother in Pakistan and then I would need not to go personally to Pakistan at expense of minimum Rs. 30,000. As such I closed my account in Pakistan.

    As I always sent through banking channels and believed on government word that on foreign home remittances no service charges were applicable I never checked my bank account. However recently after closure of account when I got final end account statement I found both local clearing charges I the name of bank commission as well as huge courier service charges had been detected by the Bank whereas my bank draft was issued by a foreign Branch of same nationslied bank. It was drawn on Karachi hence no courier service was to be used as all such drafts are cleared through banking clearing house. Local courier charges deducted by bank are Rs. 75/- whereas local courier charges within Karachi charged even by TCS are Rs. 25/- from ordinary common man and from banks and big companies only from Rs. 3 to Rs. 6 per letter. It acted as a last hammer and completely shaked and eroded my confidence. No overseas Pakistani perhaps knows or has been told that there are certain charges on home remittances whereas an impression given is home remittances are free from all sorts of conditions etc.

    Last but no the least my remaining confidence went into thin air when August this year the Wednesday evening I was to travel to Pakistan I approached the foreign Branch of same nationalised bank with my cash savings in hand requesting to issue me a bank draft in my name so I may take my savings with me. The bank refused to issue bank draft on the plea Draft cannot be issued but I can send money by TT. Having no option I divided the cash, sent some perforce through TT as desired by bank and from rest of the cash I purchased cash Pakistani currency which is more cheaper than draft and TT or even Hundi and is available in crisp brand new currency notes with footpath vendors in Middle East. Bringing Pakistani cash currency is not allowed but perforce I had to do this.

    Now what a wonder. Had I got the draft very next early Thursday morning exactly at 09.00 am I would had deposited it into my account in Karachi and next day it could had been credited into my account. But it was a joke money was following me by TT to take 5 days for credit into my account. The point to ponder is as the Bank abroad at 05.30 Wednesday evening refused to give me Bank Draft, had I given this money to any hundi operator very next day early Thursday morning latest by 10.00 am hundi operators would had definitely without fail deposited cash into my account as I learn from stories hundi is very swift.

    Senior Economist Sultan Ahmed two years back in his article well stated under some planning domestic banking which is always a back bone for economy of any country is being destroyed and being crippled by conditions like keep increasing minimum balance, service charges, no profit if balance not upto this, commissions etc.