Halting UAE visas

Published November 27, 2020

IT appears that the Pakistani workforce in the UAE, along with labour from some other, mostly Muslim, countries, has become an unfortunate casualty of the Middle East’s changing geopolitics. While the actual reasons for halting employment and visit visas by the UAE are not clear at the moment, the move coincides with the advent of diplomatic relations between the Emirates and Israel, with the pressure on other Muslim states to similarly engage with Tel Aviv.

In a recent interview, Prime Minister Imran Khan indicated that Pakistan had also come under such pressure. Speculation has been rife on other counts as well, including security and Covid-19 concerns. In an attempt to end these conjectures, the Foreign Office has said that the matter was not linked to security. In addition, SAPM Zulfikar Bukhari has gone so far as to assert that the UAE authorities said there was “no ban on the export of Pakistani workforce”.

This is at variance with the position of the UAE which has confirmed that the non-issuance of visas “till further notice” applies to employment for and visits by Pakistanis under 65 years of age. Already some reports have suggested that, since the ban came into effect on Nov 18, one recruitment agency in Rawalpindi has lost 3,000 jobs that have now been diverted to India.

The truth is that there will continue to be a great deal of insecurity and speculation unless the UAE and subsequently Pakistan make clear, officially, the actual reasons behind the move. The approach of the UAE has been disappointing and discriminatory. That a country which is home to 1.2m Pakistanis — making up a huge bulk of its population — is arbitrarily taking such a harsh position on the entry of Pakistani citizens is deeply troubling and can have serious implications for long-term ties.

Not only must this approach be challenged by the Foreign Office, it should also be taken up by the prime minister at the highest level, as it spells doom for thousands of Pakistanis working in the UAE. In its annual report, the State Bank of Pakistan warned that forced repatriation of Pakistanis who work abroad could create grave problems for the economy, as there are no jobs that can absorb them in the workforce here. In a post-Covid economy, this would spell disaster. The seriousness of this situation should not be lost on the government, which must address the issue immediately.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2020

Opinion

Editorial

Price bombs
Updated 18 Jun, 2024

Price bombs

It just wants to take the easy route and enjoy the ride for however long it is in power.
Palestine’s plight
Updated 17 Jun, 2024

Palestine’s plight

While the faithful across the world are celebrating with their families, thousands of Palestinian children have either been orphaned, or themselves been killed by the Israeli aggressors.
Profiting off denied visas
Updated 19 Jun, 2024

Profiting off denied visas

The staggering rejection rates underscore systemic biases in the largely non-transparent visa approval process.
After the deluge
Updated 16 Jun, 2024

After the deluge

There was a lack of mental fortitude in the loss against India while against US, the team lost all control and displayed a lack of cohesion and synergy.
Fugue state
16 Jun, 2024

Fugue state

WITH its founder in jail these days, it seems nearly impossible to figure out what the PTI actually wants. On one...
Sindh budget
16 Jun, 2024

Sindh budget

SINDH’S Rs3.06tr budget for the upcoming financial year is a combination of populist interventions, attempts to...