Sunday December 03, 2023

Pakistani 'beggars' travelling abroad the most, Senate body told

Pakistani beggars enter Saudi Arabia, Iraq under the guise of religious pilgrims

September 27, 2023
A group of beggars sitting roadside waiting for mercy at Qasimabad on July 17, 2021. — APP
A group of beggars sitting roadside waiting for mercy at Qasimabad on July 17, 2021. — APP

ISLAMABAD: Secretary Overseas Pakistanis Zeeshan Khanzada, during a meeting of the Senate's standing committee for Overseas Pakistanis, on Wednesday revealed that most of the Pakistanis travelling abroad, are doing so with the purpose of indulging in begging.

With Rana Mahmoodul Hassan Kakar in the chair, Khanzada apprised the forum that Pakistani beggars travel to the Middle East under the guise of ziarat [pilgrimage].

Most people visit Saudi Arabia on Umrah visas and then indulge in begging-related activities. Meanwhile, the majority of the pickpockets arrested from within Makkah's grand mosque are Pakistani nationals, the official said.

Ambassadors of Iraq and Saudi Arabia complain to us that their prison facilities have been overrun [due to Pakistani beggars that enter the country via unauthorised channels].

This issue now befalls within the category of human trafficking, Khanzada also said.

Expressing his views on utilising Pakistan's immense human resource potential, Chairman Kakar apprised the members that only 200 Pakistanis travelled to Japan after the island country had floated a requirement of 340,000 skilled people.

Contrastingly, 150,000 Indians and 91,000 people from Nepal went to Japan, the committee chairman said.

"We have 50,000 unemployed engineers [...] whereas Nepal which has a total population of 30 million, managed to train their people in the Japanese language [and send them there]," he added.

Responding to Pakistan's status with regard to human capital opportunities in Japan, the secretary said that Pakistan did ink an agreement with the island nation in 2019 and that Pakistan provides linguistic training in Japanese which is certified by the relevant country as well.

Inquiring about what preparations have been made with regard to Newtech's proposal to the Saudi government, Kakar revealed that the initial proposal sent by Pakistan was turned down by Saudi Arabia.

The committee chairman — in light of the fact that Saudi Arabia requires skilled labour — also suggested sending [at least] 50,000 trained people to the Middle-Eastern country.

At this, Secretary Khanzada revealed that Pakistan trails behind countries such as India and Bangladesh despite the fact that there is a significantly large number of Pakistanis living abroad.

Shedding light on the numbers of overseas Pakistanis in different countries, he said that 1.6 million and 200,000 Pakistanis reside in the UAE and Qatar, respectively.

People are ready to pay [as much as] Rs5 million to go abroad in search of jobs, he said.

Commenting on the lost human capital opportunities, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman said that at a time when Nepal was sending "aeroplanes full of" mountain sherpas to Pakistan [due to the fact that] Pakistani sherpas associated with the mountaineering industry are relatively less skilled.