The Case of Skilled Overseas Pakistanis
9 Million Pakistanis lives in the different countries of the world for the sake of their bread and butter. According to figures released by Pakistani Government, most of the Pakistanis live in Middle East. Majority of them live in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. 30 Percent Overseas Pakistanis belongs to the 8 districts of Pakistan, six of which are in Punjab, one in Sindh and one Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. There are 21 out of 154 districts in Pakistan where less than one thousand people went abroad. About 45% of Pakistanis living abroad belongs to Punjab i.e. 546,0987. Other provinces data is as under; 32,75,904 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 1,028,582 from Sindh and 1,16617 from Balochistan. 690,968 from Azad Kashmir and 24,223 from Gilgit-Baltistan.The highest number of people went abroad from Karachi Central District is 539,381. Sialkot District of Punjab is second with 476,877 persons overseas and Rawalpindi is third with 392,250 overseas. Lahore district has 406023 overseas, Gujranwala city has 372882 people and Gujrat City has 357811 people who went abroad. Also 3,45,796 Pakistanis from Swat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa went abroad.
According to official data, the volume of remittances sent by overseas Pakistanis during the first nine months of the current financial year has exceeded to worth PKR 21 billion, which is 43% more than the same period of the previous financial year. Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia sent the most remittances of PKR 5.7 billion. Thus, away from their homeland, these people are playing a key role in the development and prosperity of Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken special interest in solving the problems of overseas Pakistanis since he came in power. In this regard most of the migrants are happy with the personal interest of the Prime Minister and the performance of the government of Pakistan. The present government also has honor of giving overseas Pakistanis the basic right to vote during its tenure.
The steps taken by the PTI government for overseas Pakistanis are commendable but there is still room for further improvement. The topic of today’s column is reminded by a friend who has been living in Saudi Arabia for a long time. He asked me to convey some facts and recommendations to the authorities so that newcomers seeking employment abroad can avoid any type of trouble. Most of Pakistani migrants live in two Middle Eastern countries; Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Obviously, where there are more people, there will be more problems. The biggest problem Overseas Pakistanis face is fraudulent behavior of agents who are working with foreign companies. Many agents are performing their duties honestly but majority of overseas Pakistanis who complains about those who are strangling their own countrymen for a few rupees. The “method” of these agents is that they offer a scheme to companies in Middle East that if you pay uscommission, we will provide you cheapest labor force. They are slaughtering whole buffalo of others just for the sake of their little chunk of meat. We blame foreign companies while the fault lies mostly in our own people. The majority of these skilled people borrow money from someone to pay for their visa.
Two or three days ago, I came across a job advertisement in which the monthly salary of a carpenter, mason, steel fixer, etc. for Saudi Arabia was stated to be 950 riyals each, which is about PKR 45,000. It is not difficult to counter check that these skilled workers will need a certain amount for their basic living needs. In addition to it, they will have to send some money back home to foster their family and may also wants to make their own “savings”. Although the Pakistan’s economic situation isnot good, but even here the worker earns about PKR 40000 a month by working 12 hours a day. What is the benefit to the workers if they have to go abroad and earn less than PKR 45,000 per month? If the Agents are sincere with their countrymen, they should first demand minimum wage of 1500 to 2000 Saudi riyals from the Middle Eastern Companies and in returnget skilledlabor force. In this regard, I request Prime Minister Imran Khan to take personal interest in this issue and order instructions to the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis to ensure basic laborrights of overseas are being protected, introduce 24/7 UAN number (helpline) to solve issues and respond to queries, fulfill their needs and also take necessary steps to rectify the situation so that skilled overseas Pakistanis are not further exploited anywhere in the World.