90% of beggars arrested abroad are Pakistani, Senate panel told

Pakistani beggars

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development disclosed to the Senate Committee on Overseas Pakistanis that a significant proportion of beggars are trafficked abroad through illicit channels.

Chaired by Chairman Manzoor Ahmed Kakar, the Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development convened at the Parliament House on Wednesday.

During the session, the secretary of the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis divulged to the Senate panel that a staggering 90% of beggars apprehended in foreign countries are of Pakistani origin.

He added, “Both the Iraqi and Saudi ambassadors have reported overcrowded jails due to these arrests.” Notably, a substantial number of pickpockets detained within the Haram in Saudi Arabia were traced back to Pakistan, exploiting Umrah visas for begging purposes.

In response, the Senate Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development called for establishing robust mechanisms to send skilled professionals abroad.

Senator Rana Mahmood Ul Hassan expressed concern over the unemployment of 50,000 engineers and IT professionals in Pakistan. He urged the ministry to collaborate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and related departments to facilitate the migration of skilled Pakistani engineers to countries such as Japan, China, and others. Hassan emphasized that these highly qualified professionals were eager to work, even at monthly salaries as low as Rs15,000 to Rs20,000.

The secretary of the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis informed the committee about a new initiative focusing on sending IT professionals, engineers, and paramedical staff abroad, anticipating a significant boost in foreign remittances.

Professional beggars arrested during crackdown in Islamabad

Senator Rana Mahmoud Ul Hassan raised serious questions regarding the country’s inability to send engineers to Japan, despite Japan’s demand for three lakh workers. Senator Shahadat Awan echoed these concerns, emphasizing the need to identify the reasons behind this negligence. The committee requested a comprehensive list of skilled workers sent to Japan, along with their educational qualifications. Senator Awan also called for an evaluation of the Memorandum of Understanding between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Officials informed the committee that in 2019, a bilateral agreement led to the establishment of the Saudi government’s skill verification program in Pakistan, known as Takamol, comprising 18 centers with its headquarters in Islamabad. Currently, 2.8 million workers are employed in Saudi Arabia.

In response to inquiries about the criteria and system for skilled immigration to Korea, officials revealed that Pakistan was one of 19 countries participating in the Korean Employment Permit System, facilitating the migration of skilled workers based on merit and country-specific quotas. This year, Korea allocated 1,100 skilled worker slots for Pakistan. Immigrants selected under this program receive training in culture and specified skills.

The secretary emphasized that language proficiency posed a challenge when clearing immigration to countries like China, Japan, and Korea. The committee requested the appearance of the National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) to provide further insights into this matter during the next meeting.

Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi inquired about funds or grants provided by the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) to mine workers after completing 30 years of service. He noted that the grant was not disbursed in accordance with EOBI rules, highlighting the lack of proper registration and training for mine workers.

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