In a recent meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis, it was revealed that a significant number of Pakistanis living abroad are beggars, leading to legal troubles for them. Secretary of Overseas Pakistanis, Zeeshan Khanzada, shared concerning statistics about the country’s overseas population during the session.
Senator Rana Mahmood ul Hassan drew attention to Pakistan’s limited representation among skilled workers in countries such as Japan. While Japan had requested 340,000 skilled workers from various nations, only 200 Pakistanis had been sent, raising concerns about the underutilization of the country’s workforce in foreign job markets.
Khanzada explained that Pakistan had approximately one million overseas citizens. However, compared to countries like India and Bangladesh, Pakistan had a relatively smaller number of its citizens living abroad. He also mentioned that Pakistan had established a skilled center in Saudi Arabia and that many Pakistanis were employed in countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar.
Regarding job readiness, Secretary Khanzada revealed that many Pakistanis were willing to pay substantial amounts, sometimes up to Rs5 million, to secure employment opportunities abroad. He also mentioned a 2019 agreement with Japan that focused on providing language training to Pakistani workers to meet the language requirements of host countries.
Senator Sherry Rehman stressed the importance of enhancing the skills of Pakistani workers. She drew a comparison with Nepal, which had been sending mountain guides to Pakistan, highlighting the need for comprehensive training programs to improve the skill levels of Pakistani workers.
One particularly troubling issue raised by Secretary Khanzada was the involvement of a significant number of Pakistanis in begging activities overseas, leading to legal troubles. Shockingly, he disclosed that 90% of beggars arrested abroad were of Pakistani origin. This revelation has raised concerns about the image of Pakistanis abroad and their involvement in illegal activities.
Furthermore, Khanzada mentioned that both Iraqi and Saudi ambassadors had reported overcrowded jails due to the arrest of Pakistani beggars. He also pointed out that many pickpockets caught inside the Haram in Saudi Arabia were Pakistanis, often traveling on Umrah visas for the purpose of begging.
In light of these revelations, it is evident that Pakistan needs to address various issues related to its overseas population, including improving the skill levels of its workers, enhancing their job readiness, and tackling the problem of Pakistanis engaged in begging and illegal activities abroad. The Senate panel’s discussion serves as a reminder of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for Pakistan’s expatriate community.