On September 27, 2023, the secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Overseas, Zulfiqar Haider, in a briefing to the Senate Committee said that around 90 per cent of the beggars abroad come from Pakistan, and they travel abroad through human trafficking channels.
The committee was informed about the presence of 1,600,000 Pakistanis in the UAE and 200,000 in Qatar as per a newspaper agency of the country
The information was shared while discussing the issue of skilled and unskilled labourers leaving the country, Haider said that many beggars exploited pilgrim visas to travel to Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq. “These Iraqi and Saudi Ambassadors have reported that their jails were overcrowded due to these arrests,” he said.
The ambassadors of Iraq and Saudi Arabia have also revealed that Pakistani beggars travel abroad under the guise of “Ziarat” on Umrah Visas and later engage in begging on the streets
Even in Saudi Prisons, there are significant Pakistani prisoners who are caught in cases like pickpocketing, Haider said, adding that they were apprehended in holy sites like Mecca’s Grand Mosque. This matter is of grave concern to Pakistan as it is bringing shame to the country at the global fora.
Pakistan Inabilities in Sending Skilled Workers Abroad
Haider also noted that Japan has emerged as the destination for Pakistani beggars, a newspaper reported. During the meeting, Senator Rana Mehmoodul Hasan lamented the country’s inability to send its skilled workers to countries like Japan, where the demand for labourers from India is high.
Hasan also mentioned that as many as 50,000 engineers in Pakistan were unemployed and urged the ministry to devise a strategy with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other related ministers to devise a strategy and other related ministries to aid in sending Pakistan engineers as skilled workers to Japan, China, and other countries.
High Demand for Workers from India, Bangladesh
“India has reached the moon while we stumble every day, Hasan said, according to a newspaper. “Our people are now ready to work on the wages lower than those of the workers of Nepal and India. Haider also highlighted that foreign employers have had concerns about the skill and trustworthiness of Pakistani workers, which is not the case with Bangladesh and India.
Another senator, Sherry Rahman, pointed out that Pakistan was witnessing an influx of skilled mountaineers from Nepal, emphasizing that “Pakistan’s own people generally lacked the same level of expertise in mountain climbing.
Why Beggars Flock Abroad
The primary reason why beggars in large numbers are flocking to West Asian nations is attributed to skyrocketing food and fuel prices coupled with rising inflation, which the poor Pakistanis are unable to afford. The massive rise in floods has also destroyed crops, especially wheat.
According to the World Bank Statistics, poverty in Pakistan has shot up to 39.4 percent as of the last fiscal year, with 1.25 million more people falling into the traps due to poor economic conditions said.
The global lender urged Pakistan to take urgent steps to tax its sacred cows, namely agriculture and real estate, and to cut wasteful expenditures in an effort to achieve economic stability through steep fiscal adjustment of over 7 per cent of the economy.