The Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis was informed on Wednesday that a growing number of beggars from Pakistan were moving abroad, which has spurred “human trafficking”.
Overseas Ministry Secretary Zulfikar Haider made this disclosure during a discussion in the Senate panel on the issue of skilled and unskilled labour leaving the country.
In a startling revelation, Haider informed the committee that a staggering “90 per cent of beggars” arrested in foreign countries were of Pakistani origin.
He explained that many beggars exploited pilgrim visas to travel to Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq.
The official further revealed that a significant number of pickpockets apprehended in holy sites like Haram were also Pakistani nationals.
During the discussion, Haider also noted that Japan had emerged as a new destination for such visitors.
He emphasised Pakistan’s historical role in exporting skilled labour and expressed optimism that the country’s foreign remittances would increase when professionals went abroad. He added that Saudi Arabia now preferred skilled labour over untrained individuals.
Senator Rana Mehmoodul Hasan highlighted Japan’s demand for skilled workers from different countries, with India, Nepal, and Pakistan sending varying numbers of individuals.
Hasan also mentioned that as many as 50,000 engineers in Pakistan were unemployed.
“India chand par pahonch gaya hai, aur hum rozana koi chaand charha dete hain (India has reached the moon, while we stumble every day),” the senator added.
“Our people are now ready to work on wages lower than those of workers of Nepal and India.”
Regarding the Middle East, he mentioned that approximately three million people were in Saudi Arabia, 1.5m Pakistanis were in the UAE, while 0.2m were in Qatar.
Haider acknowledged that Bangladesh and India had surpassed Pakistan in this aspect, citing concerns about the skills and trustworthiness of Pakistani workers in the eyes of foreign employers.
On the other hand, Senator Sherry Rehman pointed out that Pakistan was witnessing an influx of skilled mountaineers from Nepal, emphasising that “Pakistan’s own people generally lacked the same level of expertise in mountain climbing.”