Senate panel discusses plight of Pakistani murder accused in China

Asks Foreign Office to approach Baitul Maal for funds for out-of-court settlement

Our Correspondent ​ January 10, 2020
Asks Foreign Office to approach Baitul Maal for funds for out-of-court settlement. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development on Friday asked the government to ensure funds for the out-of court settlement in order to secure the life of a Pakistani prisoner languishing in a Chinese jail.

The committee met at the Parliament House, with Senator Hilalur Rehman in the chair. The meeting commenced with a briefing on the status of Wajahat Butt, who is detained at the Liwan Detention Centre in Guanghou, China, over the murder of a Chinese national during robbery.

Wajahat Butt’s father told the committee that his son was falsely implicated in that case last year by his employer, who was an Afghan national and was hostile towards him for his Pakistani nationality.

A senior officer of Foreign Office said that the murdered Chinese belonged to Muslim community and Wajahat’s uncle had persuaded them for the out-of-court settlement.

The deceased family agreed to the out-of-court settlement and demanded some of Rs8 million.

“The Foreign Office could not pay from the Community Welfare Fund. As per law, the fund is aimed at facilitating the welfare of blue-collar Pakistani workers and those Pakistanis who were involved in petty crimes abroad,” the officials said.

The committee noted that help from organisations such as the Pak-China Institute and other non-governmental organisations could be sought. It recommended that the Pakistan Baitul Maal could be approached for support in this matter.

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Chaired by Senator Hilalur Rehman, the meeting was attended by Najma Hameed, Nighat Mirza, Molvi Faiz Muhammad, Sassui Palijo, Samina Saeed besides senior officers from the ministries of Overseas Pakistanis Ministry and the foreign affairs, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Pakistan international Airlines (PIA).

The committee also discussed the job opportunities for the skilled Pakistani labour in Japan, human trafficking cases in the Jungle Migrants Camp at Vucjak site in Bosnia and the non-payment of allowances to PIA employees at the Damam Airport in Saudi Arabia.

On the case of Zahir Shah, a PIA employee, who was serving at the Damam airport since 2013, the committee was informed that he had been working late hours and on holidays but he had not been paid any allowances. The committee directed Shah to submit documents to the committee and the PIA to expedite his case.

Discussing the FIA compliance report on human trafficking cases the committee was informed that out of 190 cases, 60 had been verified, 92 were at the inquiry stage and 25 had to be dropped due to lack of evidence.

Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment Director General Kashif Noor told the committee that efforts were afoot to send Pakistani skilled workforce to Japan by activating a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) signed between the two countries last month.

“We are in constant contact with the Japanese government to operationalise the MoC at the earliest and have held a meeting at the consular-level,” Noor said. He added that the overseas ministry had put some questions to the Japanese authorities in the meeting last week.

The questions pertained to the establishment of Japanese language testing facility, skills development of Pakistani workers as per Japanese requirement and provision of the Overseas Employment Promoters list to Japan, Noor added.

Responding to a query raised by Senator Nighat Mirza, Noor said: “Japan will not compromise on language and skills criterion required for getting jobs there.” He added the overseas ministry was making steps for setting up language and skills centres in every province.

“The MoC signed with Japan will open new avenues for the Pakistanis to work in 14 Japanese sectors, including construction, information technology, nursing, manufacturing, engineering and others,” Noor told the committee.

He pointed out that Japan was facing serious shortage of workers at the moment due to aging society and shrinking population. “The MoC with Japan will be implemented on the pattern of the government-to-government contract already in place with South Korea.

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