‘90% of beggars arrested abroad turned out to be Pakistani nationals’

Pakistani beggars travel to Iraq and Saudi Arabia under the guise of pilgrimage, Senate told

Wednesday, September 27, 2023
A large number of beggars sitting on the roadside waiting for mercy at Wahduwah road on February 10, 2022 — APP.

ISLAMABAD: During a meeting of the Senate's standing committee for Overseas Pakistanis on Wednesday, a startling revelation was made by the secretary overseas Pakistanis who apprised the forum that out of all the Pakistanis leaving the country, beggars are going abroad the most.

The meeting chaired by Rana Mahmoodul Hassan Kakar was told that out of all the beggars who were arrested, 90 per cent turned out to be Pakistani nationals.

Secretary Overseas Pakistanis Zeeshan Khanzada informed the committee that Pakistani beggars travel to Iraq and Saudi Arabia under the guise of ziarat [pilgrimage]. Most people visit Saudi Arabia on Umrah visas and then indulge in begging-related activities, the official said.

Most of the pickpockets arrested from within Makkah's grand mosque are Pakistani nationals, he added.

Ambassadors of Iraq and Saudi Arabia complain to us that their prison facilities have been overrun [due to Pakistani beggars that enter the country via unauthorised channels].

This issue now befalls within the category of human trafficking, Khanzada also said.

Expressing his views on utilising Pakistan's immense human resource potential, Chairman Kakar apprised the members that only 200 Pakistanis travelled to Japan after the island country had floated a requirement of 340,000 skilled people.

Contrastingly, 150,000 Indians and 91,000 people from Nepal went to Japan, the committee chairman said.

"We have 50,000 unemployed engineers [...] whereas Nepal which has a total population of 30 million, managed to train their people in the Japanese language [and send them there]," he added.

Responding to Pakistan's status with regard to human capital opportunities in Japan, the secretary said that Pakistan did ink an agreement with the island nation in 2019 and that Pakistan provides linguistic training in Japanese which is certified by the relevant country as well.

Inquiring about what preparations have been made with regard to Newtech's proposal to the Saudi government, Kakar revealed that the initial proposal sent by Pakistan was turned down by Saudi Arabia.

The committee chairman — in light of the fact that Saudi Arabia requires skilled labour — also suggested sending [at least] 50,000 trained people to the Middle-Eastern country.

At this, Secretary Khanzada revealed that Pakistan trails behind countries such as India and Bangladesh despite the fact that there is a significantly large number of Pakistanis living abroad.

Shedding light on the numbers of overseas Pakistanis in different countries, he said that 1.6 million and 200,000 Pakistanis reside in the UAE and Qatar, respectively.

People are ready to pay [as much as] Rs5 million to go abroad in search of jobs, he said.

Commenting on the lost human capital opportunities, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman said that at a time when Nepal was sending "aeroplanes full of" mountain sherpas to Pakistan [due to the fact that] Pakistani sherpas associated with the mountaineering industry are relatively less skilled.