ISLAMABAD: Political instability in the Gulf States, drop in oil prices and the policy of replacing foreign workforce with a local one have led to the deportation of about 0.2 million Pakistanis during the last three years. Some 40% of these people have been departed from Saudi Arabia alone.
Currently, 9.87 million Pakistanis are residing in different Gulf countries but a detailed data about them is not available with the Foreign Office or the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development.
Ministry’s Director General Immigration Kashif Noor shared this with the Senate Standing Committee for Overseas Pakistanis on Tuesday. Senator Baz Muhammad Khan chaired the meeting of the committee where the ruling party’s Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qayyum spoke for most of the time.
Managing Director of the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation Habibur Rehman Gilani said Saudi Arabia alone had deported 4,500 Pakistanis recently.
Noor said there were 0.12 million Pakistanis in Qatar of which 75% were workers and 8,000 students. About 3 to 4% of them are residing there illegally while 60 are imprisoned for various crimes.
Senator Khan said the number of Pakistanis proceeding to Gulf countries had come down, and 85% drop had been witnessed especially during the last three years.
Sharing the major reasons for deportation and return of Pakistanis from Middle Eastern countries with the Senate committee, another official of the ministry said the drop in the oil prices across the region, conflict in those areas and above all localisation policies —preferring locals for jobs – had also led to the removal of Pakistanis.
Senator Qayyum called for exploring other countries to export human resources and for make the returnees skillful in order to increase their viability and utility. Noor replied that several measures were being taken to document, empower and utilise the workers.
Answering a question, the MD said people had not returned or been deported in such numbers from countries other than the Gulf states.
“FIFA World Cup 2022 is going to be held in Qatar and they require 22 million foreign workers while the Emir of Qatar has promised Pakistanis with 0.1 million jobs,” he said, adding that the ministry was in talks with Qatari officials to discuss and settle modalities for enhancing manpower export from Pakistan.
The committee was also told that the 4,500 Pakistanis returning from S Arabia had been registered with the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) through biometric verification. The project would cost Rs73 million, and the amount has been approved by the Ministry of Planning and Development.
Qayyum said the ministry should also focus on the reasons for deportation of those workers and their problems abroad, and hold symposiums and seminars in those countries for Pakistanis.
“Given the challenges around us, we need to invest in human resource and send our skilled workers and professionals abroad,” he concluded.
Earlier, officials of the Workers Welfare Bureau (WWB) of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa told the committee that five cases had been filed in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against corruption in purchase, recruitment and award of contracts in several projects of Rs3.6 billion.
Senator Rehman Malik sought complete details in the next meeting about NAB inquiries against the WWB officials along with all names so that people should know who was being investigated for the wrongdoing.
He also announced introduction of a bill in parliament for the protection of civil servants speaking against corruption and wrongdoing of senior officers. “Why they will honestly speak about their seniors when they do not have indemnity from feedback,” he added.