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Suspension of visas for Pakistanis: Enver Baig suggests PM to meet UAE rulers

By Mariana Baabar
December 05, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Senator M. Enver Baig Friday said the UAE visa ban for Pakistanis had nothing to do with COVID-19 as had been said by the Foreign Office.

Talking to this correspondent, Mr Baig, who has been associated with the PPP and PML-N, said the ban had more to do on political and diplomatic fronts which needed to be resolved at the highest levels. Baig said he was amazed to read a report in The News edition on Friday headlined “UAE visas for Pakistanis not suspended officially”.

“I am truly amazed to read what the Foreign Office spokesman told the media briefing. First, the ban has nothing to do with COVID-19 as the Foreign Office had earlier said. It has more to do on political and diplomatic fronts, which needs to be resolved at the highest levels. Does the Foreign Office realize that till the UAE ban is in place, Pakistan is losing 800/1,000 jobs daily and the country benefiting from this ban is India?”

He pointed out that the UAE work visas for Pakistani workers had been suspended/blocked since 18th Nov 2020. “Though the UAE authorities have not officially announced the ban, but in actual fact work visas are banned. I urge upon the prime minister to kindly intervene in getting work visas restored, as Pakistan recruits approximately 2,50,000 workers annually with home remittances of $3.5 from the UAE alone,” he explained.

The Foreign Office Thursday said the government was cognizant of the fact that Pakistani nationals were facing visa restrictions. “We understand that these restrictions only apply to visit visas and not to renewal of existing visas. We are in touch with the UAE authorities both in Abu Dhabi and Islamabad. The ministry is making concerted efforts to address the situation,” the spokesman had commented. Having already written to Prime Minister Imran Khan who acknowledged his letter and to COAS General Bajwa through the ISPR, Senator Baig says the government has to be more proactive to solve this issue and this was now too urgent and sensitive a job for just the Foreign Office or other ministries to handle.

“May I suggest that since the rulers of the UAE will be in Pakistan on their annual hunting trip, Prime Minister Imran Khan needs to find some time and meet them at their hunting camps where the atmosphere will be very cordial, relaxed and jovial. An opportune time to have this ban lifted,” he suggested saying Khan should ensure that no one from the bureaucracy or the Foreign Office should tag along. There is also a word of caution for the PTI government. “Out of the total numbers being sent overseas for employment 75% hail from Punjab, 20% from KP and 5% from other provinces. The PTI base is Punjab, hence it is all the more important for PTI to get this ban lifted, as it may hurt them in the next general elections,” pointed out the senator. Looking into the future, the senator said Pakistan needs to have an aggressive manpower export policy because the main competitor is India which is perusing it very aggressively.

“It is no secret that Prime Minister Modi visited the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia over the last couple of years in which protocols for manpower exports were signed. We have taken too much for granted just because we are a Muslim country.

Being in the business I have seen Pakistan losing a lot of contracts to India. Our Embassies need to be given a task to promote Pakistan’s manpower exports”. “Pakistan total home remittance is approximately 20/22 B USD annually which if marketed can cross 30 B USD in the first year, he added.