A senior official of the Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (OPHRD) on Wednesday told the Senate's standing committee concerned that as many as 15,000 Pakistanis were languishing in foreign jails.
The forum, which met with Senator Manzoor Ahmed in the chair, underlined the need for early release of those prisoners who were jailed against petty crimes.
OPHRD Division Secretary Ishrat Ali informed the committee that the government would soon reach an agreement with Sri Lankan and Saudi Arabian authorities for exchange of prisoners.
The committee reviewed the progress of the OPHRD Ministry and its allied departments whose officials briefed the members on its role, scope of work and over-all working.
The meeting was attended by senators Naseebullah Bazai, Irfan-ul-Haque Siddique, Khalida Ateeb, Liaqat Khan Taraqai, Muhammad Asad Ali Khan Junejo, Shaheen Khalid Butt and others.
"The overseas Pakistanis are our precious asset and sending billions of rupees in remittances," the committee chairman remarked, while passionately calling for a comprehensive strategy in consultation with the relevant departments to ensure resolution of their grievances.
The OPHRD secretary said the ministry, in consultation with the provincial authorities, was taking steps to implement international laws and agreements related to labourers and overseas workers.
He added that the 18th Constitutional Amendment brought revolutionary changes in the ministry structure.
He said a major chunk of the total 7.8 million Pakistani diaspora comprised of unskilled workers who worked against low wages.
The official said steps were underway to impart proper trainings to the workers, owing to the various countries' demand for the skilled workforce.
He said the export of skilled workforce would work as a catalyst for boosting remittances inflow in the country, he added.
The meeting was told that the National Vocational and Technical Training Commission was the major institution for producing skilled workforce.
The committee asked the officials concerned to submit a report entailing numbers of the skilled workforce, went abroad from each province.
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