Zeeshan Khanzada, Secretary Overseas Pakistanis reportedly provided some troubling figures regarding the indigent country’s foreign population in a recent Senate Standing Committee meeting on Foreign Pakistanis. He disclosed that a significant portion of overseas Pakistanis engage in begging which puts many of them in legal trouble, adding a massive stain to Pakistan’s already disgraceful record.
He asserted that several Pakistanis who indulged in international beggaring had run into legal issues. He divulged that 90% of the beggars caught abroad were from Pakistan. The ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and Iraq complained that their jails were overcrowded as a result of these arrests which also raised concerns about human trafficking.
He mentioned that many of the pickpockets nabbed inside the Masjid al-Haram in Saudi Arabia were Pakistanis and frequently used Umrah visas to visit the place for begging.
Reports also mention that the Arab countries have asked Pakistan to stop sending beggars disguised as pilgrims. Authorities in these countries have asked Pakistan to take back all the beggars, adding that 90% of the beggars caught in the countries are Pakistanis.
The subject of Pakistan’s relatively low presence among skilled employees in nations like Japan was brought up during the discussion by Senator Rana Mahmood-ul-Hasan. He stated that barely 200 Pakistanis had been deployed despite Japan’s request for 340,000 skilled personnel from diverse nations. This sparked reservations about the country’s workers being underutilised in international job markets.
About 1.5 million skilled employees from India and 91,000 from Nepal were sent to the east-Asian country. A competent workforce has also been sent there from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He highlighted that Pakistan has a workforce of about 500,000 engineers and Nepal has a population of 30 million. However, the latter has dispatched workers to Japan where many of them are learning the Japanese language.
Approximately 3 million Pakistanis are employed in Saudi Arabia and while the government is drafting a plan, the Gulf state is currently hiring proficient workers rather than unskilled labour, according to the senator. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is establishing skill centres in Pakistan due to the lack of skilled personnel. Around 200,000 Pakistanis are employed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which has offered to send 50,000 skilled workers to Pakistan.
The representatives from Overseas Pakistanis briefed the committee that Pakistan inked a contract with Japan in 2019. The latter has confirmed that Pakistan’s workforce should receive language training.
Senator Sherry Rehman stressed the necessity for Pakistanis to improve their abilities and drew comparisons to Nepal which had been sending mountain shepherds to Pakistan which lacked experts in surveying and mountaineering. She voiced worry about the lack of comprehensive training programmes and the competency level of Pakistani workers.
Zeeshan Khanzada further conveyed to the committee that there are many Pakistanis residing abroad with Bangladesh and India outpacing them in terms of emigration. He added that the majority of beggars who are apprehended are his fellow countrymen and that many are being imprisoned for begging in the Islamic holy cities.
He proclaimed that most of the people arrested for stealing wallets inside sacred sites are Pakistanis who enter on religious visas but end up begging.
He noted that many Pakistanis were employed in nations like the UAE and Qatar and that Pakistan had developed a skilled centre in Saudi Arabia. According to him, many Pakistanis were prepared for the workforce and were willing to pay high sums of money, up to 5 million rupees to land jobs abroad.
This meeting primarily concentrated on Pakistan’s emigration concerns, including discussions on the necessity to send skilled labour abroad and resolve different issues involving Pakistanis living abroad.
Notably, former Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif famously referred to the country as a beggar when he replied, “Beggars can’t be choosers,” in April of 2022 after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf supremo and ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi called him a “slave of America”.
He then reiterated the same in September of the same year when he announced, “Today when we go to any friendly country or make a phone call, they think that we have come to beg for money,” while speaking at a lawyers’ convention. “Where does Pakistan stand today after 75 years,” he asked and added, “Even smaller economies have surpassed Pakistan and we have been wandering for the past 75 years carrying a begging bowl.”
The South Asian country has been simultaneously and unsuccessfully battling severe economic crises, inflation bombs, political instability and terror attacks for quite some time now with no end to its mounting troubles in sight.
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